Life provides men with an endless supply of things to get angry about.
There’s the sullen waitress who refuses to look in your direction while you
wave desperately for the check. There’s the oaf who drifts across the road
without ever using his blinker. There’s the dropped call, the tepid shower, the
gum on the bottom of the shoe.
While it’s perfectly natural to get angry about any of these things, anger
comes to some men more naturally than others. For the hot-tempered, the
pettiest annoyance results in out-of-control anger. And some guys, despite the
fact anger is listed among the deadly sins, genuinely like having a hot temper.
It can be a source of pride and a badge of masculinity. Even if you’re not
busting heads every weekend at a roadhouse, you might enjoy indulging your
angry side. You might feel that anger helps you succeed and inspires
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But there’s a downside to the manful, short-fused Type A personality. “In
researching people with this disposition, we found that anger and hostility may
actually be lethal,” says Charles D. Spielberger, PhD, a distinguished research
professor of psychology at the University of South Florida who’s been studying
anger for 25 years. And he means lethal to the person who gets angry, not the
one on the receiving end of the anger. The evidence that anger can detract from
your health is mounting all the time. And of course, uncontrolled anger in men
can leave your marriage and your career — not to mention your crockery — in
So what is this emotion that we all share but rarely think about? How do we
know if our anger is out of control — and what is it doing to us?
Is anger just an emotion? While we think of it that way, it’s really
much more. “Anger is both psychological and physiological,” Spielberger tells
WebMD. When you lose control of your anger during a traffic jam or at your
son’s soccer game, your nervous system triggers a number of biological
Levels of hormones, like cortisol, increase.
Your breathing gets faster.
Your pulse gets faster.
Your blood pressure rises.
As you heat up, you begin to sweat.
Your pupils dilate.
You may notice sudden headaches.
Basically, your body is gearing up for intense physical activity. This is
the “fight” part of the “fight or flight” response. If we’re exposed to
something stressful, our bodies get ready to do battle or run away.
Spielberger says that anger is common because it has an evolutionary
advantage. “Anger isn’t just a human emotion,” he says. “Fear and rage are
common to animals too. They developed over eons to help creatures fight and