Let me be blunt. “Anger addiction” is not a metaphor or a loosely applied descriptor. People who are easily and continually angry exhibit the same behaviors as those addicted to any substances or habits that are ultimately harmful to them and those around them. Those who engage in anger as a preferred or constant practice are addicts.
The evidence is clear: Whole segments of our population are in the grips of anger merchants, caught in the grip of cultish behaviors that are falsely legitimized in the name of politics or religion.
The responses to anger addiction are similar to those of other addictions: Concern about the causes, effects and treatment of the addiction. Education about the signs and symptoms of this condition. Worry about the spread of this compulsion into the general population. Investigations into preventative measures. Accountability requirements for those who enable anger-obsessions. Support for those who care for individuals suffering from anger-dependence.
The neurobiological, behavioral and cultural markers of addiction are present in the lives of perpetually angry individuals and cohorts. Angry people gather together—in rallies, online forums, supportive organizations—to get their anger refueled and rewarded. The stress of angry behaviors shows itself in decision-making that lacks logic. Fight-responses to stress are evident in growing violence. Anger reactions consume energy, attention, time and money. Anger-dealers grow wealthy from the profits of their enterprises. Relationships can be severely harmed or destroyed.
Sadly, many of the maddicts or angerholics—we need descriptive terminology to name this phenomenon—are people known to us. Many of them are people of faith. Some of them are older adults.
As is true of other addictive matters, though, all is not lost. There is hope. Perhaps slim, but hope nonetheless. Let’s talk about that next….
NEXT TIME: Dealing with anger hopefully
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