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How not to become a body of anger

health and fitness Updated: Nov 19, 2011 19:16 IST
Dr Shikha Sharma
Dr Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times
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I recently watched an interesting documentary on anger. We all feel anger at various times. But what is it? Anger arises from thoughts. And thoughts are created in that part of the mind called the ego or ahamkara where we perceive our identity. The ego creates all thoughts. And anger, at the base level, is fear. Fear that turns aggressive is anger.

When we feel humiliated, it is because the ego interprets outside events as harmful to the self. This can range from physical violence to imagined loss of life, material or emotional possessions, prestige, self-image, love… etc.

AngerOnce the mind decides that the situation is threatening, it triggers the eruption of a flood of hormones to start the fight or flight response. The fight response is the aggressive expression of anger, usually displayed by men. Flight response is the passive-aggressive expression of anger, usually displayed by women.

How anger affects the body

Anger begins in the part of the brain called amygdala. This sends hormones into a frenzy. Nerves get tense, muscles become taut, blood rushes to the limbs, eyes narrow, and breathing becomes rapid to ingest more oxygen to set the blood and hormones pumping. Blood pressure shoots up from 120/80 to 200/130, the blood releases a factor that makes it very thick to prevent blood loss in case of injury, the logical part of the mind shuts off and the person attacks.

The cooling down process can last from hours to days, with recurrent attacks of anger in the cooling down period.

Anger disrupts sane thinking. The part of the mind responsible for sane behaviour is the prefrontal cortex. This is more powerful than the anger area but slower to respond in untrained individuals. If you can train it, it can thwart the amygdala.

Women and anger

Years of genetic training have taught women that they are likely to get hurt if they get aggressive. So they repress anger or vent it on weaker beings like kids, pets or even themselves.

Repressed anger takes the shape of over-eating, over-drinking, over-exercising, obsessive behaviour, suicidal tendencies, and attempts to hurt others through secretive means. It usually shows in the body as pain of unknown origin; also skin disorders and breathing difficulties.

From HT Brunch, November 20

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