Why We Get Angry

By Kristen
Updated on July 28, 2007

Anger is a response to a threat. It gives us the ability to fight back. For our ancestors, this was useful. If a wild animal was trying to attack you or a loved one, you suddenly felt rage and had the ability to fight. Today, if somebody was trying to rob you or hurt somebody you care about, anger will suddenly give you the the ability to stand up to them.

The problem is that anger is only useful when we physically need to protect ourselves. In most all other situations, it's more harmful than helpful.

This doesn't mean that you should avoid any feelings of anger at all. If somebody does something to harm you or a family member, breaks into your home, does something stupid that could or does result in horrible consequences, then anger is certainly appropriate. The questions in such situations, though, are "What level of anger is appropriate, and how should that anger be expressed?" This is where anger management comes in.