This is a GP’s quite detailed analysis of anger types. I find it quite useful as a guide, and in directing you toward the most appropriate ways of dealing with anger. However, it is somewhat simplistic and if as an educational guide it doesn’t work for you, then look to professional help – but in the psychological rather than the medical sphere.
THE FIVE ANGER TYPES
Personality traits: You lack self-control. When something makes you angry you react instinctively, without thinking. Your response is never proportionate to the situation.
Triggers: You are most likely to get angry when you feel thwarted, so at work you may explode with rage when someone else fails to finish a piece of work on time.
How you react: You lash out, you yell, slam doors, are verbally abusive and may become violent. Road rage is typical of this type of anger.
Effects on your health: High blood pressure, elevating your risk of heart attack and stroke. You are also more likely to die younger as you walk into dangerous situations in a rage.
How to manage your anger: Anger counselling is a very good idea, as is trying to verbalise how you feel, and relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Your “type” is unlikely to seek help — but you could try the time-honoured ploy of counting to 10.
Personality traits: You don’t express it, you don’t verbalise it but you do make sure you get your own back. You’re an introvert who finds it difficult to express yourself or say “no”.
Triggers: Feeling aggrieved, thwarted, or disappointed. You might, for example, have failed to get a promotion, and hate the person who did get it.
How you react: You don’t directly say anything angry or act in an angry way, though you may be sarcastic. You gossip behind people’s backs and damage their reputations, withhold praise or give people the silent treatment.
Effects on your health: While unlikely to damage your physical health, your anger is still holding you back and stopping you reaching your potential — at work you are unlikely to be promoted as you will be seen as obstructive and unhelpful.
How to manage your anger: Try counselling to help you own your emotions and express yourself better, so you can say: “When you do X, it makes me feel Y, and I would prefer it if you did Z”.
Personality traits: You’re a perfectionist, afraid of doing the wrong thing. You’re conscientious, but not very open to new experiences and worried you are not performing as well as you should so you become angry at yourself.
Anger triggers: Stress of any sort. Feeling trapped, perhaps in a job where you have to work long hours. You don’t know how to escape the situation and make life better for yourself.
How you react: You turn the anger in on yourself — indeed, it can lead to depression, even suicide. You constantly feel something is going to go terribly wrong. Hypochondria and insomnia are common.
Effects on your health: You may find that your immune system is compromised so you will have a lot of colds. You may be neglecting yourself, eating a bad diet, for example, so you have high cholesterol.
How to manage your anger: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) would help you to see the bigger picture and realise not everything is about you.
Personality traits: You always seem angry or defensive, taking everything people say the wrong way. You have low self-esteem so you always see things as a criticism. You externalise your anger.
Anger triggers: You want immediate results and are constantly being disappointed by your own expectations. You can be irrational, for example, changing the goalposts of a project.
How you react: You get red in the face, you shout, your body language is aggressive, and you may well be feeling guilty for not being able to put your anger behind you.
Effects on your health: As with those who suffer from explosive rages, anger puts your blood pressure up, and raises your risk of heart attack and stroke. You’re also at risk from heart disease and ulcers.
How to manage your anger: CBT would be helpful, as would meditation or yoga — gentle exercise is best as you don’t want to be doing anything that would put your blood pressure up.
Personality Traits: Some situations should and do make you angry, but you react in a direct and proportional manner. You are generally an easygoing person, you know your own limitations but are confident with them.
Anger triggers: Injustice. Or someone acting inappropriately. Anything you consider to be wrong.
How you react: You stay in control, you appraise the situation and formulate a response in a rational and constructive way. You don’t shout, but you do maintain eye contact, and you don’t make, or accept, any excuses.
Effects on your health: Because of the way you control your anger, without explosive outbursts or turning the anger in on yourself, it should have no impact on your health.
How to manage your anger: You have realised that anger tends to simmer and return if not dealt with effectively. Make sure you keep on expressing yourself, and do whatever you need to do to stay relaxed.
Dr Sarah Brewer