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What is Anger?

Harry Mills, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 8th 2016

Anger is a basic human emotion that is experienced by all people. Typically triggered by an emotional hurt, anger is usually experienced as an unpleasant feeling that occurs when we think we have been injured, mistreated, opposed in our long-held views, or when we are faced with obstacles that keep us from reaching personal goals.

The experience of anger varies widely; how often anger occurs, how intensely it is felt, and how long it lasts are different for each person. People also vary in how easily they get angry (known as their anger threshold), as well as how comfortable they are with feeling angry. Some people are always getting angry while others seldom feel angry. Some people are very aware of their anger, while others fail to recognize anger when it occurs. Some experts suggest that the average adult gets angry about once a day and annoyed or peeved about three times a day. Other anger management experts suggest that getting angry fifteen times a day is more likely a realistic average. Regardless of how often we actually experience anger, it is a common and unavoidable emotion.

Anger can be constructive or destructive. When well managed, anger or annoyance has very few hurtful health or relationship consequences. At its roots, anger is a signal to you that something in your environment isn’t right. It captures your attention and motivates you to take action to correct that wrong thing. How you end up handling the anger signal has very important consequences for your overall health and welfare, however. When you express anger, your actions trigger others to become defensive and angry too. Blood pressures raises and stress hormones flow. Violence can then follow. You may develop a reputation as a dangerous 'loose cannon' whom no one wants to be around.

Out of control anger alienates friends, co-workers and family members. It also has a clear relationship with health problems and early death. Hostile, aggressive anger not only increases your risk for an early death, but also your risk for social isolation, which itself is a major risk factor for serious illness and death. These are but two of many reasons why learning to properly manage anger is a good idea.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Angry Husband PLEASE HELP! - - Aug 4th 2014

Hi Everyone,

Im going to make this short because its months and months long!  I found out

my husband has been watching porn, maybe a little live porn.  I found this to be so horrible painful. when I tried, at first talk to him he lied.  As time went on I felt that he didn't love me enough to tell me what I was doing wrong and why I was not enough.  I mean was it my weight,  my age, falling out of love with me, bord with me?????  I was dying from the pain and feeling like I was no longer enough or I was being replaced!  Gosh, my heart was breaking! I started to get mad becuz he was lying and not telling me what the problem was so we could fix it and get the marriage back we once had.  This went on for months.  Now he has moved out of our room and tells me I destroyed our marriage and he is beyond angry at me.  We are sperated but living together.  We agreed to give US time to see if we want to stay married, 20 yrs! Its almost been a yr since this all happened.  He moved out of our room 2 months ago for the 2nd.  He tells me he is still angry at me and he was a great husband. He was!!!! However, he was pulling away from me less sex less us time etc.... Please Don't comment maybe I was wrong.  I was not wrong!  I didn't handle it right I can admit to that.   How long can he stay mad good lord 20 yrs all the great things Ive done and given him saved him! Yes SAVED he use to tell me that all the time.   HELP!  Do you know how hard it is to live with someone who is angry at you and on a lot of days hates you?????? I am going to drop dead from the stress.   I don't want to die I have kids and I want to be a grandma and see my kids marry and grow up.  Even with my husband I want all this. I want what we had yearsago. We had a loving best friend soulmate marraige! Is it even possible!!!!

Sorry about my previous comment. - Kate Athend - Aug 31st 2013

This is belated but I think I was looking for some answers in regards to the title and did not find it immediately in the article. With further study I did find constructive answers to the problem later on in subsqencial pages. Again, sorry about the tone of my previous comment. It was rather in the heat of the moment and I was struck on making a simple point. My other comment could have been more constructive.

not even joking - - Mar 23rd 2013

I got pissed off just reading that

Isolation from anger - Amy W. - Feb 20th 2012

Help please I am isolating because of anger, and emotional crisis that others may think something different about whether  the (emotional crisis) is intentional, or I talk to **** about it and he gets angry and has not responded correctly. So I think that I am bad and here I sit. If **** is angry why will others not be angry with me?

There's no place for anger - - Feb 20th 2012

THe line in the arcicle that says something to the sort that anger tells me that something in my environment is not right or that anger tells me there is something I haven't done when the situation can lead to violence depending on how the person reacts to anger. I think it needs to STOP the anger. Ignoring anger is not the answer, but smiling, apoligizing, and agreeing with hey that works but what about the assertiveness some people look at a smile as a weakness so knowing the person is angry and that my smile (OH I lost my smile when a person was still angry after I smiled and apologized) may or may not change the angry person, so we still constructively make anger work for us but I am not going to go out of my way to tell constantly make you happy when your always mad it is annoying. So some of @#$%'s anger I say "NO" to, or change the subject real quick and yes I'm smilling or making him smile however I may not look like I'm smiling but my smile is felt so step back with a smile and apologize with a smile!


anger / Hate - Mac - Feb 18th 2011

i feel sorry for you all, sad thing is ... i have also this problem, but i see my anger as a protection ... up to the point where i can no lnger control myself or my actions... after i have gone berserk i become very very tired and ashamed of what i have done, thought or want to do ... i ask myself why ... bloody why make life so hard .... still waiting for the answer, which will never come ! after reading all your comments, i wish i could help and say the right thing... only thing i have learnt however ... looks like i amnot the only one with these intense feelings ... i only say to you ... do not give up keep fighting it as best you can .. take care 

Its Okay - - Sep 9th 2010

Everybody in life gets angry...but its up to us to control it. There are many other ways to vent. I pray and hope everyone that commented finds a peace of mind. God bless you all!!!

HELP ME PLEASEE!! - Brianna - Jun 24th 2010

My name is brianna. Me and my boyfriend cut each other for pleasure. some times i cut his penis when i have my periods and we have sex i am so angry and i really dont want to be like this anymore can you please help me i dont want to be angry like this anymore

leaving - benjamin suicidal - Jun 22nd 2010

my girlfriend dumped me. im hanging myself after this message !

PLEASE HELP ME !!! PLEASEE !! - Benjamin suicidal - Jun 21st 2010

ever since i went to highschool i have been bullied non stop. everyday i want to kill myself and i am cutting my wrist. please help i dont think i have much longer. i have tried before. they say its serious. me and my girlfriend share our love cutting our backs. she is the only thing keeping me in this world.

What is anger? - Kate Athend - Feb 22nd 2010

Listen Dr. Phil I mean Harry, couldn't you write a better article than that on what is anger? I still don't know what anger is.

I want to know what anger is so I can understand it and myself better, not a few lines that jump me right into what I need to do to control it or accept it. I WANT TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF AND OTHERS AND HOW WE WORK in terms of what anger exactly is and even why we are made this way. I bet even God gets angry, no, I know that is true. So what is it.

You have a phd HARRY,  and yet your article was not answering the question effectivily but side stepping the question. I am very angry that you can not write a better article. In fact, I think I could with proper research do a better job of it and I do not have a phd. Plus the server on this site is too slow and that is frustrating.

How did I do Harry, did I express my anger in a effective manner and/or did my comments make you angery, and why? What is this thing anger? How can we make it useful and a valuble asset in our lifes? But first, what is anger to begin with? I have strong desires too, should I not challenge you?

by Bluedoll


Dr. Dombeck's Note: Did you read the entire set of articles here?  The document is not limited to this one page, but rather was conceived as a larger thing - in this case spread across 26 pages.  Before raging on Dr. Mills, please check to see if what you're looking for is somewhere else herein. 

HELP! - Alice - Feb 12th 2010

I need some advice and support fast!

Im 14 years old and am living like any "normal" teenager would live like, but I have these horrible spurts of anger. Usually it starts over something small like I want to go out into town oneday and then it turns into this big fiasco where I end up biting, hiting, cursing and screaming at my mum. I feel so crap afterwards and it brings me down onto an all time depressive low afterwards. When I feel angry, I want to rip my mums head off and shove her body to the ground and cut her up and rip her limbs off till she is just bits. I feel suicidal and a danger to others!


im so out of control - - Jan 6th 2010

All my life ive been surrounded by bullies as my da was in the armed forces when i was about 9 i started to stick up for myself but it seemed that it got worse over the years. I got called horrible names which has haunt me for the whole entire of my teenage years and was very hard to trust anybody. I have been messed around by men and friends using, or back stabbing me which got me so angry and more and more it happened and ive i had the moment where i didnt want to live anymore and is still happening at the moment ive been with my partner nearly 2 years now ive been hurt a bit in the relationship and really has hurt me the worst and weve tried to make it work but now that it doesnt happen any more im still very angry i scream so loud when its something stupid im always slamming doors i want to punch walls to take out the frustration and i know this is really scaring my partner but havent a clue what im really going through when we 1st started being together my anger was controlled because things was going right for me for once but now feels back to where i started.Please i need help

why can't i control my anger? - Esther - Oct 26th 2009

i noticed a few years back that i'm always angry over little things which i can easily ignored but i just for some reason prefer to shout and get it over with. lately i have been waiting for a job and i haven't gotten it which has contributed greatly to my anger. the bad part is that i was lash out at my 13 and 9 yrs old siblings which is very terrible... pls i need help cos now people tell me i'm wicked and very bossy which isn't me at all. i really need to stop shouting cos it's bad for my health and my heart beat races when i shout which is really uncomfortable... the only thing that calms me down most times it music and sudoku...

p.s i love laughing....

anger at my husband and self over our past - jo - Sep 25th 2009

I get angry once in a while like a kettle about to steam. It always starts with my husbands lack of actions and I carrying it on for days until I have to say something. Then once the argument starts something will be said that triggers this fight of fire in me, because I am reminded of my past with my husband. Please help and explain how you let go of such anger of the past?

DISTURBED - DEBORAH - Sep 23rd 2009

I Became angry when i was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and started hearing voices of disturbing words being said to me called hearing voices this persisted even after the medications.  I've been diagnosed for atleast 11 yrs now i'm 32.   I was a very violent person towards my family .  The only thing that seemed to help was prayer. the meds help some what. I became a drug addict and so on.  I'm in a group home seeking treatment now and gotten clean their is hope and keep praying to god for hope cause every day is a battle.

Advice! - Liam Campbell - Sep 23rd 2009

I consider myself a good person but when i get angry i just can't control what i'm doing i need help i strongly beleve its made my life like this because of family life,friends, its seemed its gotten worser down the years when i did get angry when i was younger i usta bottle it by i mean not let it out keep quiet and just let it blow over. i am nearly 18 it's bad now i just wonder what's it gonna be like in a few years down the line.

bursted anger on me - sudhir - Jul 20th 2009

i am able to control my angry moment but whenever my colsoe related family member show my incapbility to do something which they did they i am out of control i am veey qualifie person but they always has possess egocentric attitude which is affect on my personality and carrer. they alwasys showing their ingratituduness and dislikeness  such kind of mishappened wih me because they always met me. i am 25 yerr old and graduated person one thing also i mention here they always remeber me my past fault which is whole day disturbe me and as result occur unplesant day

so angry - jack - Jul 2nd 2009

i was so angry to day because a teacher got on my nerves because he try to ecause me for stealing when it was some one else i wanted to kill him.

my badist moment - - Jul 2nd 2009

i am elven and when i get angry i start crying and went to get into a fight and i start swearing and some peolpe don't want me to get angry.

I have a problem - Victoria - Feb 21st 2009

Before, the anger used to be in short, controllable bursts; ones I could control. But lately, alot of my family has been passing away, my cousin, my grandfather, my aunt - and this has led to some irrational anger towards people.

 When someone insults me, I can easily ignore it with a little teeth gritting and false smiles, but when someone insults someone I love, my friends most of all. I get ridiculously angry and feel like whatever I do to this person wouldn't satisfy the urges.

Even though I can sometimes control that, I've recently realized that I hate losing. Alot. When I was younger, my family thought I was just having little temper tantrums that all kids get. But now when I do anything with other people and lose - I explode. I yell, I throw things, and I say some pretty mean things. The problem isn't even that. It's that when I'm angry - the things I say, I can actually imagine doing.  It's terrible.

I've recently started seeing a counselor, and I'm glad I did - anger is something people use to express their emotions, but sometimes an unbalanced build up can occur and when the boiling point is hit - someone can explode and do things they never believed they could ever do. Being able to see you have anger problems is one thing, it's a whole 'nother ball game to control them. 

euphoria of rage - - Jan 16th 2009

i am a white male adult aged thirty two i have always been angry at what i dont know its like a drug i just keep going further and further i am out of control i am deceptive feel little or no guilt i feel the world owes me something i do not take disappointment well and i have periods in my life i like to call lucid i cant keep a steady job or girl have difficulty explaining my emotions its like describing a color the thoughts i think are unspeakable however i blend just melt away into your neighbor or your milk man or the guy at the store you all know me but none of you know ME! im the last guy youll ever piss off  i am me.....i am everywhere........

im 18 and have a problem - - Jan 13th 2009

I noticed my problem when i went to see my daughter and her mom. We was sitting in their trailer and out of noware i just snapped. I grabed my daughters mom by the throat and threw her in to the intertainment center. Then i grabed her by her face and threw her into the chair and told her i would kill her. Now i know i need help i sat up all night in shock for what i did and said.

I have some anger issues. - Rick - Aug 29th 2008

I used to get very angry at age 17. Though I do blame most of my explosions on my life (moved around from family member to family member, then foster homes etc.) Anyways, I now live with an Aunt (im 22) but i still get VERY VERY angry. ESPECIALLY when i lose at a game called chess.

HOWEVER!! I would like to say that Anger HAS helped me in some ways. I did launch my own Moving Service out of anger (long story). I will be gettin my final Licence for business in about a month from today.

My point is that I am VERY aware of my anger. Sometimes, most times, I take it out on others. But when I close my room door, its ME who has to deal with MYSELF. I get angry at myself for being angry.

Its a hard thing to control. BUT keep your heads up, and join me in controling this damn emotion.


why me - dave - Jul 26th 2007

i look back in  my life, and think why mum was always being beaten by my dad and me my sister and brother always heard the screams.we could do nothing but beg my  dad to stop.when they divorced it was relief,no more did we have to listen  to the  screams.

i swore that i would never be the same as my dad!

i left home and joined the army,things were great.{for a while}i found myself being intimedated and bullied.all the thoughts of  seeing my mum crying came flooding back.No More i  thought.i started to fight-back.

i then found that at the slightest thing that i would fly off the handle and loose it,lashing out at anyone in my way.

i met the woman of  my dreams and left the army.we had 4 girls and have been together for 11 anger is ruining every thing.i have  hurt her physicaly{and my children have  seen}.she and my children are my world,so why cant i control myself?.

my anger is  ruining my life.i have had to leave my job and move because of my violence towards other people.{I NEED HELP}please can anyone help me.i lay awake at night and cry to myself as i know i am hurting the ones i love.

My last thought is allways why am i like this.



my anger - Louise - May 10th 2007

my name is Louise, i am not an angry person around my freinds at school (most of the time) but when it comes to someone hurting or upsetting someone dear to me my mood switches in a split second one second i could be laghing and being stupid and the next i'll be wanting to rip some one's throat out, ive had this problem since my mother passed away, before she did she always told me never to take anything from anyone, but in highschool i do, people piss me off but i just ignore it (well at least i do try to) but sometimes they just go over the line! i'll either break down, throw things, scream or just cut myself.

i see alcohol and other things as a get away from everything that pisses me off, i punched my boyfreind because he cheated on me and now i cant sleep at night, i cant concentrate, i cant get up in the morning on time, and i just cant get myself motivated enought to get things done! i dont know how to get my old self back again!

anger hurts - wife of angry man - May 9th 2007
My husband, whom I love dearly struggles with extreme anger. I think it is caused by depression over his work situation and our life in general. He is NEVER abusive physically to myself or our kids, but he is apt to get angry and yell at the slightest thing. It hurts me to see him this way and his behavior hurts too. My life is pretty miserable at times. Our house is a disaster zone and we have few friends because we push them away with our attitudes and by not wanting anyone in the house (because I am too ashamed at how it looks) WE need help, I just wish I knew where to turn. He even rages against GOD much of the time...and I think HE'S the only one who can truly help!!!

a lot of anger right now - Costas - Mar 18th 2007

I have a lot of anger right now in my life, and i feel like i am a volcano ready to erupt. I used to be a happy person up until i was 11 years old. I had friends, travelled a lot, went to good schools. I have moved around a lot lived in 2 different continents, and i just have no identity anymore. My anger is directed towards all the people who have wronged me so far in my life. Im just angry at everybody right now, women, society, my parents, relatives and myself as well. I think anger is a product of genetics,environment and circumstances. When your life changes so abruptly as a kid, that is to go from positive surroundings to an abrupt negative change, it can impact you for the rest of your life. I don't drink much and im really not a violent person but my tolerance level for other people has changed. I just need something new and positively drastic to occur in my life for me to look at things on the bright side again. Perhaps the meeting with a beautiful kind woman or a change of environment or even a decent job with a good social circle. Money is a help but does not necessarily equate with happiness in the long run. Im in a bad mood right now and if things don't change it will not be good for me at all.

Thanks Patrick - TS - Mar 8th 2007
Your comments were enlighting; thank you so much for telling your story. It is helping me understand someone in my life who uses anger almost exclusively to express the entire sum of their emotions.

anger - shakazhlun - Feb 25th 2007

i hate anger

Anger - Patrick - Oct 27th 2006
ANGER When I first started seeing a therapist in 1994 for depression he said, that he felt fear around me. I felt shame – I wasn’t aware that my body language, emanated anger. He was the first person who actually told me how he felt (he had processed his own history). I spent years in therapy processing my childhood & part of my process was to access my anger (visceral). I attended an anger workshop four about 4 years - I had so much “rage” locked in my body from years of being controlled & abused from a childhood spent in orphanages. It took me years of therapy to access my visceral anger as opposed to “rage.” I felt shame around feeling my anger; once I could access my anger the other feelings of pain shame & grief slowly surfaced. I had so much pain locked in my body that when the pain became overwhelming I would get angry about feeling the pain. The anger group I attended comprised of people who were working on their own issues & I would strike a bag with a baseball bat (rage at my abusers etc) & after my process, I would get feedback from the other participants. Quite a few feelings would surface during my process, especially grief. I had so much grief (actual tears) that I had suppressed - it was so freeing to express my pain, fear, anger & shame in front of the other group members & to feel validated (something I never got from my childhood). One needs anger as a boundary to protect oneself as opposed to “rage,” which alienates people. Just lifting an eyebrow is a way of communicating ones anger; Anger is an integral part of who I am. Even Jesus expressed anger (justified anger). I don’t suffer from depression anymore because I have “Little Patrick,” who I abandoned many, years ago. I am blessed, because I believe Jesus was by my side all those empty, fearful, depressing & lonely years. (In orphanages).

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