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Rage Ratings

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

Another way you can learn about how your anger reveals itself is to get into the habit of measuring your anger. Unlike body temperature which is a physical state that can be measured by a physical instrument (a thermometer), anger is a complex event which has emotional, psychological, and physiological aspects. In order to measure anger, it is necessary to make anger ratings.

thermometerPicture a thermometer that measures the amount of anger you are feeling at any given moment. Imagine that when you are slightly irritated or frustrated, the mercury begins to rise out of the bulb of the thermometer. When you begin to feel the anger building but are still able to control it, the mercury rises about halfway up the thermometer. When you get really upset and your anger is boiling, imagine the mercury rising to the top of the thermometer. Rate your anger on that thermometer from 0 to 100 where zero means you are completely calm, and 100 means you are in a complete rage.

Use your anger thermometer to practice making anger ratings. A good way to get started is to think back on recent past situations in which you were angry, and then use the anger thermometer to rate just how angry you were during each situation.

The goal in rating your anger is to recognize that anger operates on a continuum; that it moves smoothly up and down between calmness on the one hand and rage on the other. People with anger problems sometimes don't get the continuum nature of anger because they experience their own anger as an either/or sort of thing; things seem to be either "fine" or "furious". Even though anger appears to be an 'on' or 'off' sort of thing for these people, this is generally because they are only counting the times when they are the most angry as episodes of anger; everything else is lumped into the 'fine' category. With sufficient practice, even these people can learn to distinguish ever finer shades of anger and calmness.

Anger ratings are important because they provide feedback about how likely you are to lose control or explode at any given moment. By training yourself to recognize when you are getting increasingly angry but are not yet out of control, you improve your chances of being able to maintain control by taking steps to reverse the upward trend of your anger.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

I seriously HATE my brother - Alia H. - Dec 29th 2014

Hi my name is Alia and I'm 12 years old I'm about to turn 13 I have two siblings, one little sister who I love and adore and the other my older brother in which I hate to death we have fought countless times in which have hurt me in my ability to focus in school and cooperate with others he annoys me so much and also hates me for some reason I do not know of. Sometimes I just want to talk to him and then he would yell at me to get out of his room and physically push me out, at school he would see me  in the hallways with my friends and yell out wh*re or sl*t to me and then cause people to stare at me, and at home he would purposely get me in trouble when my parents are around by irritating me. I hate my brother a lot and he causes to get hurt by what he says and does and when I try to talk with my parents and friends they can't understand so please help me thank you.

Anger/rage-moodiness-depression-anxiety - Anri - Aug 12th 2012

Im 16. as early as 3rd grade i had experienced depression and suicidal thoughts i did one attempt though. my moodiness and anger started at a very young age. I get easily irritatated without any concrete reason. and during those times whenever I get mad I suddenly throw things and eventually ruining them.  I also hurt my siblings physically and emotionally and I still those unwanted habits when I get furious. I've been having some research about these unwanted behaviors whenever I ask for symptoms I always find the similiraties in me. one of my closest friend told me that she is scared of me whenever we have a misunderstanding.  I worry all the time even the smallest things like about my stuff getting borrowed. My mood seems to shift always without any reason and I get irritated easily when it happens. So are my research and doubts correct?

Anger Problems - Catherine - Dec 24th 2011

 When I get angry I shake, feel like I'm about to cry, loose my sense of humor, and get sort of... evil. I just recently got into a fight with my sister because she was hitting me with a broom and acting really retarted. After she hit a couple of times, I got fed-up with it. so I turned to her and looked her straight in the eye and said, "Hit me again and I'll kill you." But what's really bad is I don't regret saying it. I've struggled with depression and suicidial thoughts before, but I thought I had just gotten over that time in my life. Only my friend Karoleena got me through that time and I'm so grateful God sent her to help me. But maybe I do have problems, I just can't expression my feelings without my eyes slighty water from frustration and my hands and jaw clenching. Usually I have a good sense of humor, but when I get really mad I say and do hurtful things. I've been know to even get to physical with whoever my anger is pointed to. I don't know what to do. All I want is respect and alittle bit of responsibility. But then again maybe I'm sadistic too because I like it when people fear me. I like to cause pain to people who have done me wrong. Who knows? Maybe God will send me another friend to help me with this time...   

anger-depressed-bipolar?? - fejo - Feb 14th 2011

im 14. Care for 3 little brothers and sisers, 3-4 of 7 days a week. stay up at least to 10 o clock babysitting them, but usually 11-12 o clock, and go to school the next morning. i have a tendance to raise my voice and quickly get mad even if it i my closest friends. little things like a friend coming upbehind me and pusing me at school will make me turn around ready to fight. i try my hardest to keep grades up. usually i feel hopeless. i love my mom, shes the best mom ever, im the problem. i dont want to move back to my dads and jump into gangs and whatnot. i feel hopeless so often. do i have anger managment, bipolar this order, or depression? ive been takin several online test and they all say yes i do, which dosnt make me feel any better about myself.

Rage - Kimber - Sep 28th 2009
I was raised by a mother alone for most of my life. she did everything, we were very poor. I dealt with thatfi Most days we never had food to eat. she had to much pride to get food from a shelter,that we desparatly neeeded. She was extremly abusive to me, my sister and my litttle brothet what little food we did have she would often deny us of. she would yell, or bark orders, never to speak to us with respect her tone with us was always that of disgust. well living like this over the years has made me angry, so as I became a teenager I felt like more the adult, and with these feelings I felt strength to stand up to the despised enemy. I started feeling nothing but hate for her and her lack of control over her own emotions. Then we started to argue next thing u know Im defending myself from her attacks on me. punchin g me, hitting me, then I find myself hitting her back in self defense and saying mean, cruel almost evil things back at her. I remember how much it hurt my soul to do this. To stoop so low, I wondered how anyone could do this to a child. I carried this with me threw my childhood not knowing the damage it would do to me later in life. I found out the hard way by not dealing with my feelings that these feelings of hoplessness, emptyness,worthlessness would turn into rage! seeing red kin of rage, were nothing was off limits and noone if they pissed me off deserved even the smallest amount of respect. Over the smallest thingd I would throw things and smash them to pieces if they were in my way I remember tripping over a smalll peice of wood in my livingroom and so pissed off, that, i just picked it up and threw it with suvh rage that it hit my bookcase driving a 1 inch hole into the side of it only to be shocked by my own strength. I knew then I needed serious help. So I got it. I went on meds, talk to a shrink. cry alot more than I ever had, but, I'm finding that the tears our more productive they make me feel on a different level than rage. I like this way alot better. at least now we have matching plates, glasses and theres no forks and knives sticking out of walls in the kitchen. lol

help - - Sep 26th 2009

Where can I get help? My daughter has sudden rage attacks directed toward me. She has abused drugs to the point of being overdosed accidentally after chari surgery. I am 61. She is 29. she had a very disfunctional childhood. I am trying to care for for her but these rage outbursts make it impossible. I am afraid for her well being. I am at my wits end.

Me too problem with rage - Lauressa - Dec 10th 2007

One thought I had after reading Frank's and others comments -physical exercise especially out doors to help lessen some of the anry thoughts and feelings and negative self talk is good. 

When we were children I bet most of us DID NOT have an anger problem. I know I was too compliant and frightened. 

Now I play with two very young sisters and we laugh and hug and imagine things.  We jump and twirl and I pretend to be a big brown bear growling as I chase them around the park. 

Like the rest of you I do raise my voice and say things do things I regret afterwards. So I am just suggesting that some of us here could go for a walk or even a run to move towards happiness. 

I WILL pray for you FRANK!! Holidays are tough. My marriage has ended and I know that being rejected is difficult to accept at any time of the year.

My terrible life - Frank Again... - Dec 5th 2007

As I said before in my first comment, I had a relationship with a girl named Sara, she was my life. And now that things are over between me and her, my life is rerrible. I constantly am depressed and can not get over her. She of course has a new man and I am stuck feeling like crap. Its not fair, and i constantly take it out on her friend emily, who is very upset of the things i have said. I am trying to contain myslef but I constantly blow up! I need HELP AND SOON!

My Anger - frank - Dec 4th 2007
I have been suvering from my anger for a while now. Because of this, the love of my life broke up with me. I am always very sad and depressed and need help. I am being mean to others and have all the elements that mean you have anger problems. I an a very angery child and need help.

Can't say "no" - - Oct 6th 2007

Everyone takes advantage. I'm supporting a unruley family of 3, living in my house, that i didn;t invite,  I have 4 sibblings and Im caring for my 84 yr, old Mom with alzimers, also my diabetic husband, who is also bed ridden from stroke, and 3 dogs to keep them from the pound, a sick cat who poops on everything,  and I transport someones kids to sports everyday.   I clamp my teeth so tight my jaws ache. If I explode everyone hates me for months. but it's the only way , I can get relief. I wish people could see what they're doing to me!

Difference between emotion and behavior - anonimous - May 13th 2007

Anger is an emotion and it’s triggered by parts of the brain that makes it fairly impossible to avoid it.
It is not possible to control basic emotion. What is possible is to control our reaction to this emotion. This is what it takes:

1 to acknowledge the problem (if you don’t admit it you cannot fix it)

2 to feel it coming (read above about ratings)

3 to prepare a reaction plan (alternative non-destructive reactions to anger)

4 determination, awareness and discipline in order to switch to the cooping reactions


An example:

Someone is really pushing those buttons and you are just about to explode.

In the past you would argue and engage in fault finding debate, get loud, and would eventually explode.

Alternative – never discuss the topic unless you feel calm and have analyzed the situation in a rational way.  
Beware of the fact that the topic might not be the issue – work together to find the real issue.

I’m not a psychologist but I can assure you: if this works for me, so it will for you.

This Web Site Makes Me Angry - Greg - May 12th 2007

This Web Site Makes Me Angry - no, it doesn't actually, I'm just kidding here. It's an example of how I feel though each day, something small is irritating, they could have designed it better, that company should stop producing junk products etc. I think I need anger self-checks more often. How angry have I been this week or today for example. My son at 16 was living with his Mom and he tried living with me which worked good for many months then I became angry and yelled because he was contradicting me and wasn't listening to me. I said I wanted him out. He doesn't want to live here now. It took me 5 hours to calm down. I can't believe I said something I didn't mean. The distance now seems impossible to repair. Be honest with yourself everyone, be honest if you have anger signs. Offer up a prayer for me if you can. I want to find articles online and improve.



I feel Lost... - - Apr 18th 2007
This series of articles have been a real eye opener, I feel awfull about my behavior. I use to think I was a very calm person, rarely felt anger (or so I thought). Until I got married, and needed to deal with bigger problems. At the beginning I didnt know how to react to an argument, I didnt know how. So I just got agressive verbally, and then phisically... Many times I promised not to do it, and then did it again. I'm so sick of myself, and mostly my husband, I love him so much, but If I dont help this behavior we are probably getting divorced. We have two babies, and it's been a while since I dont get as angry, but he is afraid of me already. I need help...

i don't mind - - Mar 1st 2007
I have taken that anger quiz and according to it, I need MAJOR anger help. I don't really care though. As long as I can punch my pillow every night, it's not so bad. I know I've had to control my temper though...I had to.

same here - - Jan 31st 2007
damn u know how long ive had this anger? like more than 2 yrs and its driving me nuts. im also clinically depressed and so sick of it. nothing has ever gotten good for me and wont. u know how many suicide plans ive had to cancel due to the fact that i cant casrry it out? its sick. it really is and i gotta agree with u man it sucks. and u know wat? al those yrs of bottled up s**t was because i coulnt stand up for myself. i seriously dont know wat do anymore.

bottled up anger and rage - - Jan 31st 2007
I don't seem able to express my anger or rage unless I can blame it on some insufficiency such as dropping something while I'm doing dishes, the kitten does something irritating to me, trying to assemble a simple machine, something falling where I don't want it to go -- such as clothes in the washer. The list can go on, but I do know that I love and recent my sister who used to live with me until I ask her to leave. My recentment was building even before I ask her to leave. I can't seem to tell people what I'm feeling without losing control and saying things I don't mean to say -- being verbally abusive to them or holding it in until I feel sick. What can I do to control this awful feeling?

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