Anger Junkie Test
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 and organ of the body. It comes from the volatile limbic system, a 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:
- For energy or motivation (can’t get going or keep going without some degree of anger). This often takes the form of getting mildly angry to do a job you don’t like to do, like your taxes or raking the leaves. The anger gives you the energy to get through the task, even though you won’t do it as efficiently
- For pain-relief (it hurts when you’re not angry)
- For confidence, a stronger sense of self — you only feel certain when angry (probably because you’re oversimplifying)
- To ease anxiety, especially in new or uncertain situations. If you get irritable when things depart from the norm or if you’re super-critical in new social situations, you are using anger as an anxiety-reducer
- To militate out of depressed mood. This can put you on one wicked rollercoaster ride. Pretty soon you’ll have only two feeling states: one of the many forms of anger, such as grouchiness, irritability, or resentment on the one hand, and depression, lethargy, or weariness on the other.
The Anger Junkie Test
Please put a check next to all that apply.
I use anger or resentment:
For energy or motivation (can’t get going or keep going without some degree of anger) ___
For pain relief (it hurts when not angry) ___
For confidence (only feel certain when angry) ___
When I’m nervous ___
To avoid depression ___
To enforce a sense of entitlement (get what I deserve) ___
To punish or inhibit honest disagreement with my opinions ___
More than once a day, and it lasts for more than a few minutes. ___
Any check marks indicate a reliance on some degree of anger.
The Good News
There’s a surefire way to reduce resentment and anger and eliminate the possibility of emotional abuse. Build your core value – your ability to create value and meaning in your life. This makes you feel more confident without the adrenalin rush of anger or resentment. It raises self-compassion and compassion for loved ones. The ultimate measure of a relationship is not whether it is free of resentment, anger, or abuse. Love relationships must be compassionate and kind.