“Anger: What is It?”

September 7, 2010

In my last article, I began a series on anger, but was remiss in one respect: I failed to define the term.  So, please allow me to begin this piece by defining “anger.”

According to MedicineNet.com, anger is “An emotional state that may range in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Anger has physical effects including raising the heart rate and blood pressure and the levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline.”  I chose this definition because it encompasses several different dimensions, all of which I will explore.

The first aspect of this definition worth exploring is that anger is an emotional state. It is not well-thought-out.  In other words, while it’s not true that all anger is irrational, none of it is completely rational, either.  That is, whenever a person reacts in anger, no matter how smart he or she is, they’re, so to speak, “not playing with a full deck” in regard to their normal intellectual ability.  The best that can be hoped for is that something was carefully decided in advance and that the angry person will choose to proceed on that logical basis, not on an angry “snap judgment.”

The second—and last, for this article—aspect of the definition above which should be discussed is that anger may range in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. An apt analogy is that mild anger is like a weak tropical depression while rage can be as strong as a category 5 hurricane.

As I close, suffice it to say that anger is a broad term.  That’s partly why the Bible can say within the span of a few verses “Be angry, yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26) and “All bitterness, anger and wrath… must be removed from you” (4:30).

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