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The Four Dimensions of Anger

This page covers some essential concepts that help to explore the anger you are experiencing - and how many ways you can be angry. Even if you are coming to see me or are joining one of the groups, time spent considering this material can help you to make the progress you need.

Also see:
  Anger Groups

Anger 'In', Anger 'Out', Anger 'Expressed', Anger 'Denied'/'Supressed'

The Four Dimensions of Anger

The drawing above is beginning to express the complexity and richness of anger as a response to threatening events and experience.

Anger 'In' and Anger 'Out'

Firstly, there are two primal types of anger - exploding anger directed outward, at others, at objects, at governments or television programmes and imploding anger directed inward, at ourselves.

Anger 'Owned' and Anger 'Denied'

A vital concept to consider is that anger can be hidden.  Being angry, even expressing it loudly and powerfully, doesn't mean that we accept it.  We have probably all met someone that was clearly very angry yet said when asked that they weren't angry at all.  Most of us tend either toward expressing our anger or, alternatively, denying and suppressing it.

Another important possibility to consider is the concept of being Passive Aggressive, that is finding ways to be aggressive but doing it avoidantly and passively.  A good example to help you see how something like this might work is someone that is always late; late to meet with you, late to telephone you, late with that document you need to include in your work that must be delivered by a deadline.  There will be good reasons no doubt, but the consistency of the behaviour is what gives it away.  And this person is really doing this because they are angry but, perhaps they cannot, or maybe they dare not.

There are other, more complex examples that I usually give in the groups or in therapy sessions but the rule to remember is that if this is you, you might think you are hurting others, but you are actually hurting yourself.

Spend some time considering these four dimensions, see the enormous complexity and challenges that anger and its expression can create and think about where you might fit. Remember too that tending toward one quarter or another doesn't mean that you do not, or cannot, find yourself in another. For example, people that rage at others are often their own worst enemy - in a very real sense...