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Good Anger vs. Bad Anger

Learn the difference between good anger and bad anger from anger management expert Dr. J. Ryan Fuller in this Howcast video.


Hi, I'm Doctor Ryan Fuller. I'm going to talk to you a little bit about good anger versus bad anger. So anger is considered to be a negative emotion. At the same time it's important to recognize that all emotions evolved with a function. They had to provide some survival value. And while it's clear, probably, about how anger and aggressive behaviors might perhaps warn, or even intimidate a particular rival, how that might have served us in some situations, it may not serve us in every situation today, when often times our triggers are things like financial stress or an unpleasant employer, or a traffic jam. At the same time though, even though there are lots and lots of people that I see with dysfunctional anger who engage in all kinds of self sabotage, where the anger in fact ends up being bad because of their behaviors.

They're also plenty of examples where anger isn't quite adaptive, even in today's world. So I'll give you a few examples of the kinds of things that it does and how you might see those manifest. So first, anger typically alerts us or warns us of a potential danger or threat or injustice and so oftentimes, especially if we've been brought up being incredibly polite and considerate, we may have a really difficult time recognizing when someone might be taking advantage of us, or some injustice is actually taking place. So anger is something that sort of alerts us or warns us that something might be going on that is wrong. The second is it motivates and energizes us. So just as it can provide energy to fight off a predator or a potential rival, it also activates us and can motive us, over time, to carry out something that might take behaviors again, and again, and again, to carry through for a longer term goal. So we can imagine certain political activities requiring something like that or community service. One of the examples I used the most in writing in fact is 'Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Certainly it makes perfect sense why these women had high, high level of anger, but it took years for them to begin to build the kind of consensus and political awareness to change laws across this country. So while anger can be self destructive. depending on the behaviors that follow, it's also something that alerts us and motivates and energizes us and can, in fact, drive plenty of adaptive behaviors when it's utilized in that way.

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