Anger - People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.
Anger is a feeling - it is something which is neither good nor bad, it just is. Feelings are a natural response to circumstances and expectations, and anger is something you will feel if you are subjected to injustice.
You can’t easily control how angry you feel. You can, however, control what you do because of your anger.
Anger comes from our primitive “fight or flight” instinct. When we feel angry we have a surge of adrenaline, our heart rate increases and our senses are heightened. We are ready for battle and we may have strength or energy beyond what is normal for us. Our blood is conserved from non-essential parts of our bodies and redirected towards the parts of our bodies that are needed for a fight or flight - our muscles, our brain and our senses.
We may feel less pain, less guilt, less sensitivity. Our appetite is suppressed and our digestive system expels waste and anything which is not essential to the immediate crisis. We become less analytical and more reactive, less stressed and more pragmatic, less depressed and more decisive. Anger can help us survive in a crisis.
Anger can become destructive when it is misdirected - towards situations or people that aren’t responsible for the pain we feel, or situations that don’t warrant a fight or flight response. Under those circumstances, the excess energy that comes from the adrenaline rush may trigger violent, aggressive reactions to small annoyances and challenges.
Examples of PD Anger
A father beats his young child when he spills a drink.
A wife accuses her husband of having an affair when he is 15 minutes late coming home.
A teenager punches a hole in a wall after a disagreement with his parent.
A husband frequently jokes in an inappropriate, degrading way about his wife in public (also known as Targeted Humor)
A young girl attempts suicide after her mother refuses to buy her a new phone.
An employee spreads a slanderous rumor about a co-worker after she performs well in a task.
A mother threatens to disown her grown daughter because she does not attend a family Christmas dinner.
If you are living with a person who is easily angered or who becomes angry in ways that you feel are unjustified, you are likely to feel a combination of fear and anger yourself.
You may be confused and a little frightened by the intensity of their emotions and begin to wonder what you could have done to deserve it. You may try to change your own behavior in an attempt to alleviate the other person's pain. This rarely works.
You may also begin to feel angry yourself at what you feel are unwarranted words and actions. You may find yourself hitting back with your own words and actions.
If you are the target of an angry person you are likely to end up trying to defend yourself.
Coping with Anger:
If angry outbursts include actions such as breaking your possessions, pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking or threats of physical violence towards yourself, your children, or pets, remove yourself and any children from the vicinity immediately. Consider calling the police if necessary.
What NOT To Do:
Don't stay in the same room with someone who is behaving violently.
Don't continue a conversation with anyone who is threatening you, degrading you or calling you names.
Don't blame yourself for the actions of choices another person makes.
Don't fight fire with fire and become aggressive yourself.
What TO Do:
Remove yourself and any children from the vicinity as quickly and safely as possible.
Call the police if there is any violence or threats of violence.
Seek the support of people who will understand what you are dealing with.
For More Information & Support...
If you suspect you may have a family member or loved-one who suffers from a personality disorder, we encourage you to learn all you can and surround yourself with support as you learn how to cope.
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