What type of “angerer” are you?

Let me start by saying that I made up the word “angerer”.

Think of the word anger-er in the same way you use the word driver (drive-er) or writer (write-er) or speaker (speak-er).  The driver drives, the writer writes, the speaker speaks and the angerer gets angry.

Nearly everyone gets angry sometime and is, therefore, by definition an angerer.  For most of us, our anger fits the situation in which it is expressed.  For others, not so much.

With this in mind, I will discuss  three types of angerers. I should note that this list is meant to be representative and not exhaustive.  Other types of angerers most likely could be identified.

Type 1: The master angerer. This is the type of angerer you most want to interact with or you want to become (if you are not already there). This person gets angry but realizes that anger is a tool.  He (or she) has learned to master his anger. He is emotionally intelligent, understands what anger is and the anger mastery cycle.  While he (or she), accepts responsibility for causing the anger, he realizes that the threat he perceives may, or may not be legitimate.  If there is a legitimate threat, he uses the energy of his anger to develop and implement a plan to eliminate the threat.  If the threat is due to a misperception, he changes his view of the situation and lets the anger dissipate.

Two basic definitions:

  • anger:  (a primitive threat detector)
  • anger mastery cycle: (unconscious sensory scanning, unconscious perception of threat and the body’s initial angry reaction,  conscious awareness of the anger, validating and assessing one’s anger, lowering one’s arousal, and choosing a response).

Type 2: The managing angerer.  This person gets angry but tends to view anger as a negative emotion that must be controlled.  He controls his behavior, lowers his arousal and attempts to eliminate his anger.  This is the individual who may be referred to Anger Management groups for treatment.  This individual may attempt to learn what his triggers are so that the situations which elicit his anger can be avoided.

Type 3: The primitive angerer.

   Subtype A: The Blamer.  This person, when he (or she) gets angry, tends to blame others for “making me angry” or  tends to lash out without much forethought and later blames the anger for any maladaptive things he may have done. He has a sense of entitlement, feels totally justified in being  angry and lashing out at others because his anger is controlling him.

Subtype B: The Suppressor.  While this person does not show anger outwardly, he (or she) is angry on the inside.  The reasons for not showing anger will vary and may include a concern about retaliation, a belief in the anger myth that anger is dangerous and should not be displayed, or a past experience in which the anger was displayed and an unwanted negative outcome occured. The problem for the suppressor is that anger is a response to the perception of threat.  As long as the threat exists, there is a real possibility that the held-in anger may become chronic and lead to either unwanted physical illness or an uncontrolled angry outburst that exceeds the situation in which the outburst occurs.

Subtype C: The Substituter.  This individual (usually male) is not comfortable experiencing or expressing feelings such as vulnerability, anxiety, guilt, jealousy, etc.  He is, however, quite comfortable with anger.  Consequently, when he experiences an uncomfortable feeling, he replaces that feeling with anger.  The cover-up works to shift his focus away from the situation as it is but does nothing to resolve the issues which exist and which elicited the uncomfortable feeling.

Subtype D: The Displayer.  This person uses anger instumentally to achieve a desired end result.  This person displays anger (looks like they are angry) eventhough they are not angry.

Two possible outcomes the Displayer desires are:

  1. Creating space.   Anger, as an emotion, tells people to back off.  This, by the way, is what anger, as a primitive threat detector, is supposed to do and may have helped our cave ancestors survive.  By displaying anger, the Displayer, can get people to back away and give him (or her) some physical and psychological space.

2. Manipulating others.   Another desired outcome might be to manipulate people into doing what the Displayer wants.  When anger is displayed, other people might want to appease the angry person by giving in to them.  When this occurs in the context of a relationship and the anger is legitimate, understanding, validating, and responding to the anger by “giving in” may be totally justified.  When the anger is used instrumentally to manipulate another person, the anger is primitive, dishonest and inappropriate.

If one of these subtypes of angerers is you, and your anger is working against you and making your life more complicated, you might want to take some time to assess whether your anger is working to improve your relationships and get your needs met. I have three recommendations for you.

  1. Scoll back up to the “Welcome” entry on this blog and download the first chapter of my book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool.
  2. Click on this link which will take you Amazon and buy my book.
  3. Leave a comment below that you want more information and I will attempt to provide it for you.

If you have to deal with any of these angerers (except the suppressor), the initial approach is the same.   The main idea behind approaching these people is that they believe their anger is appropriate to the situation. You will use the principles of anger mastery to deal with the angerer and the emotion being displayed.

Note: There is not a whole lot you can do with the Suppressor as he is not showing any anger.

The process of anger mastery involves validating the initial feeling, assessing the nature of the threat, and choosing a response that fits the situation.

Your first intervention is to take a step back from the.  Your second intervention is to validate their anger.  When you do this, you are NOT saying that you agree with their assessment of the situation or of you as a threat.  Remember that the message of anger is that the angerer perceives a threat they believe they can eliminate if they throw enough force at it. They believe that anger is the best emotion for the situation and you are not challenging this.  All you are doing is acknowledging their “right” to be angry.  Whether or not the anger is indeed, valid (appropriate to the situation) will come later.

Once you have given them some space, you can then ask for clarification regarding anything you may have done which led them to be so angry with you.

If you receive some information about the threat they perceive, you can choose how you want to respond to it.

I welcome your comments.


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