Answer and Discussion

1) Anger is a bad emotion that should be avoided at all costs. FALSE. Anger is a normal natural human emotion. It is how you respond to the anger you experience that determines whether it is helpful or destructive in your life.
2) Everyone gets angry at times.
TRUE. Anger as an emotion is a fact of life. It exists on a continuum from mild annoyance and frustration to feeling rageful and "out of control." Some people get angry less frequently but they still get angry at times.
3) Too much anger can hurt your physical health.
TRUE. Recent and ongoing research indicates that anger, particularly when it leads to a hostile and cynical attitude, can be damaging to your physical well-being and can play a part in high cholesterol, heart attacks, strokes, and other significant medical problems.
4) Screaming and throwing things are helpful ways to get anger out of your system.
FALSE. Research indicates that, especially for people who are prone to become explosively angry, ventilation (e.g. yelling and screaming) and catharsis (acting out your anger, e.g. hitting a wall) only escalate you more and, in fact, train you to handle your anger poorly with people in other life situations.
5) Angry people can never change the way they handle their anger.
FALSE. Even explosive, disrespectful, and abusive people can learn to react differently to their anger triggers, change their negative attitudes, and learn to handle their responses to feeling angry more effectively.
6) There is one right way to handle anger with others.
FALSE. There are many ways to handle anger responsibly and productively. Sometimes you may want to talk to the other person involved with your anger directly. Sometimes you may want to talk to someone else about the anger you are feeling. Sometimes you may want to handle the anger by yourself in a completely different way (e.g. getting some aerobic exercise, looking at a different perspective).
7) Frustration just naturally leads to aggression.
FALSE. In the past, it was believed that human beings, like animals, experienced an inevitable build-up of internal tension and frustration and that aggressive impulses had to be discharged periodically or they would build to the point where they explode spontaneously and uncontrollably. These hypotheses have been disproved, however, and more recent research indicates that even animals need specific environmental triggers in order to act out in an aggressive way.
8) People should never raise their voices when they are expressing anger.
FALSE. It is unrealistic to believe that you will always respond to your anger in a calm and measured manner. Expressing anger often involves intensity, increased volume, and firmness in the way you say things. These do not necessarily mean disrespect, cruelty, intimidation, or abuse. The other person's reaction to your expression of anger is important, however, and can move you in a helpful direction in terms of how to effectively deal with your anger in that particular relationship.
9) Women are less likely to feel angry than men are.
FALSE. A large study about women and anger reported that women frequently get angry, most often at partners (whether or not they are the source of the anger) or at co-workers. The younger a woman, the more likely she was to express it directly (women over 55 reported the least anger). Anger is a part of living for both women and men.
10) Getting angry never leads to a productive outcome.
FALSE. In fact, anger can be a helpful motivator and a catalyst to take constructive action if you respond to the anger you feel in a positive and productive manner.
11) Anger often makes people lose control of their behavior.
FALSE. People often use this excuse to justify disrespectful or abusive behavior toward others. But the truth is that, although people may "feel" out of control, they are continually making choices and decisions about how they will respond to their anger. In reality, people are never truly out of control unless they have a complete break from reality like a major mental illness like paranoid schizophrenia might create.
12) Angry people tend to be powerful and confident of themselves and their abilities.
FALSE. Often, abusive and explosive people appear to others as if they are powerful and "in charge." But the reality is that people who allow their volatile anger to control them and their interactions with others actually feel insecure and inadequate. People who basically feel good about themselves do not have a need to try to assume power over others and put themselves above others. Explosive people actually become other peoples' puppets because they are simply reacting to others' behaviors rather than living by the "game plan" they would like to have for themselves.
13) Anger is the same thing as hostility and cynicism.
FALSE. Anger is a normal human emotion. Cynicisim and hostility are negative and destructive attitudes which color the way that we look at and respond to the world around us. These attitudes, if they become your primary way of dealing with life, lead eventually to lashing out at others verbally or physically or pulling inside yourself, withdrawing, and "stuffing" your anger. Both these behaviors are harmful to ourselves and our relationships with others.
14) Stress is related to anger.
TRUE. Stress, and the "fight or flight" response that we as human beings are "hard-wired" to experience, is always a part of our becoming angry, especially if we are prone to label or interpret this physical response with a negative conclusion about why the physical sensations are there in the first place.
15) It's okay to use put-downs, name-calling, and cussing from time to time in a marriage and in other close relationships.
FALSE. Put-downs, name-calling, and cussing and swearing are verbal abuse and are always hurtful and destructive in human relationships and have the potential to create fear, intimidation, and emotional distance in those around us.
16) All people have cues and triggers that can help them recognize when they are becoming tense, frustrated and angry.
TRUE. There is always an escalation, a build-up of stress and tension, that precedes an outburst of explosive or abusive anger. It is critical to begin to notice, identify, and respond more effectively to the different kinds of triggers that are a part of this escalation process.
17) Temporarily getting away from a potentially volatile situation is one way to start to learn to handle anger more effectively.
TRUE. Taking a time-out, which means temporarily leaving a situation where you notice yourself becoming more and more tense, angry, and escalated, is an important first step in learning to handle anger more effectively. This strategy can give you the opportunity to figure out what is going on within you, can help you calm down, and can lead to returning to discuss the issue without saying or doing something that you will only end up regretting later.
18) If people are angry, they should always express it directly to the person they're angry with.
FALSE. Although sharing your anger with someone directly is one option, talking it out with another person who is not involved with your anger and working it out within yourself and then "letting it go" are others.
19) Angry people tend to want to control what is happening around them.
TRUE. Anger often arises when we feel that things around us are "out of control." A desire to exert control over people and situations around us is an important part of why we get angry and how we stay angry. This is especially true with explosive or abusive anger when we are, in fact, often able to control what happens around us on a short-term basis (i.e. if we blow up, people will do what we want for awhile). Long-term, however, control, disrespect, and abuse destroy relationships and drive people away.
20) Some people just deserve to be yelled at because of the way they act.
FALSE. No one "deserves" to be shamed, punished, or abused. It will not work to effectively change their behavior over time and it creates the possibility that you will end up experiencing negative consequences for yourself or in the relationship as a result.
21) The way that you think about a person or situation has a lot to do with how angry you end up getting.
TRUE. Your thoughts and what you are saying to yourself at any given moment are a powerful part of escalating yourself and becoming more tense and angry OR calming yourself down and finding effective ways to handle difficult and frustrating situations.
22) Families who yell at each other a lot are emotionally closer because they're more willing to express their true feelings with one another.
FALSE. In fact, yelling and other forms of verbal abuse push people away and destroy trust. Often, the anger serves as a "cover" and hides other thoughts and feelings that, if they were actually shared, could increase the potential for trust, caring, and intimacy in your relationships.
23) Explosive and disrespectful anger destroys intimacy, trust and safety in a family environment.
TRUE. Explosive and hurtful anger creates fear, intimidation, mistrust, and a lack of safety. In an abusive atmosphere, family members will be much less likely to take emotional risks and to share honestly and openly with one another.
24) If your anger is justified, you have the right to really 'go off' on the other person.
FALSE. Even if your anger is "justified" (i.e. if you have accurately perceived that someone or something really is "out to get you"), it is still not okay to become explosive and disrespectful. And it is not an effective and useful way to address the ongoing issue or problem that exists between the two of you.
25) If you grew up in a family where people were abusive and explosive with one another, you are more likely to be abusive and explosive in your adult life.
TRUE. Although not everyone from abusive families becomes disrespectful and abusive themselves, this is the primary place where you learn how to experience and express our anger and this is a important reason that many adults, in fact, become abusive in their own lives.

© 1987 David J. Decker, MA, LP
Phone: 612-725-8402 or 651-646-4325 -

© 2001-2004, ANGEResources, all rights reserved
Last updated September 23, 2004 | Send website comments/suggestions to: