Many people use the words anger and rage interchangeably, but that’s a mistake. While there are some similarities, there are several clear differences between these two emotional events. It is a common place to think that when anger intensifies, it turns into rage, but this is not the case. Understand the differences between healthy rabies and destructive anger is key to acquiring emotional intelligence.
The reality is that these two events describe specific phenomena within a person’s emotional field, and anger and rage are very different. Both reactions show an external display, but what happens inside is what differentiates one from the other.
Think of anger as a giant iceberg floating on water. All you see is the top of the ice or the exposed parts. What you don’t see is the huge underwater structure that holds everything in place.
With anger, there are underlying issues that are at the core of these intense feelings. While you may not see genetic links, personality disorders, or substance abuse, these may be some of the factors that drive outbursts.
8 differences between destructive anger and healthy anger
It doesn’t take a trained eye to tell the difference between anger and rage, as anger always comes with violent and destructive behaviors. Controlled, healthy anger or rage can resolve situations or challenge someone to make life changes. But it still comes with some problems. Here are some ways that anger and rage differ.
Anger makes people dissociate
when you have a destructive rage episodeyou detach yourself from reality. Many people say that they lose touch with reality for a moment, although this is not an excuse for violent behavior. Healthy rage will not cause a person to dissociate and have a temporary lapse in judgment, as he remains in control.
Angry episodes often cause amnesia
Consider Tommy. He had an angry episode where he punched a hole in the wall. After the incident, he did not remember what happened. His wife was visibly shocked by his actions. But he couldn’t understand her reaction.
It is not the first time that Tommy has had such an episode, but he never remembers any of these phenomena. It is not uncommon for people to have amnesia after these events occur. Since anger is closely related to dissociative disorder, the mind goes to a separate area during these reactions to protect itself.
Dissociative disorder is the absence of continuity between feelings, memories, environments, actions and oneself. It is extremely dangerous because a fit of anger causes a person to lose sight of what is right and what is wrong.
Destructive anger causes blinding sensations
Anger causes blinding sensations, as emotions and feelings within the body reach explosive speeds. Have you ever felt so angry that you went blind?
This is a common phrase used to talk about waves of anger that get so intense that a person sees red or goes blind. They lose all sense of boundaries and take out their violent feelings on anyone or anything around them.
There is no emotional intelligence during anger
An episode of rage is quite different from healthy rage or anger because it does not lose touch with logic. Healthy anger can be controlled and you will not do things that could be harmful to you or those around you. Someone in anger cannot rationalize such things.
During outbursts of rage, they don’t have the emotional intelligence to know that if they hit someone, they will likely face assault charges. The healthy angry person he recognizes that he will face such charges, so he learns to control himself.
Anger May Come From a Serotonin Disruption
Another way that anger varies from healthy rage is that a chemical imbalance is often the root cause. It is often the underlying problem in a mental health diagnosis. For example, people with bipolar and explosive disorders are more prone to anger than those with anxiety or depression.
Intermittent explosive disorder is becoming a more common diagnosis in the mental health community. There are more than 200,000 cases diagnosed each year. The violence that comes with anger is really what separates it from rage, as you can have healthy anger without raising your voice, calling names, or breaking things.
Emotional intelligence allows a person with healthy anger avoid losing control, but there is no reason for anger.
Anger can cause seizures
In some cases, anger can be so intense which can cause the person to have a seizure. Now, you should know that this is rare, but seizures can occur when your emotional posturing is exaggerated causing complete psychological distress. These are focal emotional seizures, which are pseudo in nature.
Pseudo means that they do not originate in the brain, since these are seizures that have an emotional basis. To help you understand this phenomenon, think of a surge protector that you use to plug in many electronic devices.
The surge protector is overloaded, you plug one more thing into it and it blows up. The surge shuts down because the power load you are asking it to supply is unfeasible. It can’t handle the intense current being drawn, so it shuts down to protect itself from catching fire.
The same thing happens when someone has a pseudo-seizure. Since these are behavior-based events, the person experiencing them is not in danger of brain damage like people with epilepsy. Consequently, they still feel and look like an epileptic seizure, but the origins are different.
If you were to hook someone having a fit of rage into an EEG machine, it wouldn’t show any electrical activity like a traditional fit. Still, it is a very shocking case that can occur when emotions overload a person. The brain is shutting down because it can’t handle the stress of the situation. Regardless of the origin of the seizure, it is still devastating.
Anger lasts up to 30 minutes: healthy anger is intermittent
A person can be angry for years about a situation, or they can be angry about something and get over it in five minutes. Anger is quite different. These attacks can last up to thirty minutes and dissipate as quickly as they appear.
These attacks can be unpredictable, as they can occur whenever something triggers them. In many cases, the person experiencing the anger does not know what triggered it. Something triggers the intense feelings inside and causes them to reach an explosive level.
Anger is never productive: healthy anger brings resolution
Healthy anger can be productive, as it can help a person get rid of negative inner emotions that are upsetting them. Anger solves nothing and only causes more problems for the person. Someone who can’t control their anger has relationship problems, keeping a job and even going to the store can be challenging.
The cycle of anger
Unlike healthy anger, anger is destructive and hurts other people. Since the person experiencing these extreme emotional outbursts does not see them, it is not uncommon for his anger to take out on a helpless child or someone he loves. It is hard to channel anger once it starts.
These outbursts are often seen in dissociative cases because the person lacks judgment and their emotional intelligence is not engaged. Destructive anger can damage any relationship. If you are with a partner with such explosive episodes, you walk like an egg around them for fear of triggering them.
What anger is violentThey will have no problem kicking, punching, pulling hair or even hurting someone at a time when they lose all their limits. The person will usually come back and regret it later, but the damage has already been done. Although the anger may subside, the desire to control persists.
If the person is not willing to talk about the events after their blind rage attack, it’s a clear sign that you don’t want help. So the “cycle of violence” continues. When you repeatedly accept someone’s apology after a violent outburst, but nothing changes, you will continue to do so until one of you leaves the relationship or gets help.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes anger as violent fits that result in insanity. Unlike healthy anger, there is no resolution. Someone who has such a violent outburst often has a chemical imbalance caused by heredity, trauma, or a mental health issue such as narcissistic personality disorder.
Treatment of anger disorders requires finding the root cause and addressing the underlying issues. The best course of treatment is to use a counselor to help uncover the reasons behind these intense feelings and to work on improving emotional intelligence.