Wednesday, December 04 2013
The Most Common Addiction: Anger/Resentment
(from The Powerful Self)
As part of the fight or flight instinct we share with all mammals, anger is the only emotion that activates every muscle group of the body. It comes from the limbic system, a small region of the brain known as the mammalian brain, because we share it with all mammals. Virtually every mammal experiences anger the same way that we do, to mobilize the organism for fighting.
The biochemicals secreted in the brain during the experience of anger — most notably the hormone, epinephrine and the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine — are experienced much like an amphetamine and an analgesic. They give a surge of energy while they numb pain.
Epinephrine is an especially powerful chemical that is sometimes injected directly into the stilled hearts of heart-attack victims to get them to beat again. As with any amphetamine, once the surge of anger burns out, you crash. (That surge of energy is borrowed from the future.) The experience of anger is always followed, to some degree, by depression.
Think about it: The last time you got really angry, you got really depressed afterwards. The angrier you get, the more depressed you get, once it wears off. And that is merely the physiological response, regardless of whether you do something while angry that you're ashamed of, like hurting the feelings of someone you love.
So an addictive trap is sprung when the energy surge of anger is used frequently. In no time at all, anger will seem necessary to escape depressed mood, even though it inevitably means more depression. In other words, the brain will look for excuses to be angry and make you an anger junkie.
You may be an anger junkie if you use anger:
The Anger-Junkie Test
I use anger or resentment: