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Thread: What is the connection, if any, between fear and anger?

  1. #1
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    What is the connection, if any, between fear and anger?

    I think sometimes when we are frightened, it triggers a sort of anger response, which would be a natural survival mechanism to evolve. If our ancestors were frightened by an approaching threat, then anger would help motivate a response.

    Of course anger can lead to a sort of hate response too.

    Not all anger is generated by fear, though, I think; that is another kind of anger, eg at a sense of injustice.

    I suppose these responses and connections are in the more ancient parts of our brain, and rise to the conscious level, in a form where we don't necessarily know what is going on.

    Fear of death, fear of unemployment, fear of theft, of homelessness, fear of loneliness, isolation...they can all lead to anger.

    Maybe this is obvious, I don' know.
    ................

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    One of my most frightening attributes is a noticeable lack of logical fear. I understand it, personally I fear bugs and man made heights, but I know these are illogical. I can empathize with fear, but I don't generally experience it myself. As a consequence it is virtually impossible to get me angry by someone trying to instill fear. One time I stood up in class because a bug fell on my lap and the professor recoiled in fear. I made an active decision to not kill the bug and apologized to the professor profusely. It turns out that he knew what was happening and was acting scared. I did not know that it was a comedic act at the time and I still feel very bad for it.

    My general perception of fear is that it is bad. However, when the chips are down, I simply don't experience it. As far as death goes, I am merely waiting for my turn. It is the common human experience. No sense in fearing it.

    This is different than ignoring consequences which doesn't include death. I often willing to ignore consequences, but I do not make light of them. I do understand them, appreciate their purpose and reasonably accommodate them. Often, consequences must occur and there is no point in trying to avoid it, as these are usually a function of good social mores. Further, if you do something that inspires fear in others, you should stop immediately. I have rarely encountered a situation where stopping to chit-chat is a horrendous choice. Then again I was brought up as a pacifist. I reject that concept for myself, but I find it a remarkable, valuable and attractive trait in others. My implementation of it is wildly imperfect. This is surprising because I was brought up that way while I can't help but notice that others come to it naturally.

    If I get angry, I usually say so and stomp off to have my fit where people can't see it. I completely acknowledge that it is "reasonable unreasonableness". This disturbs my wife, but my kids get it. "I am not going to talk about this with you. I have a problem with what you did/said, but have no reasonable response at this time. I will NOT argue this one with you right now. We will talk later. Grrr..." Usually my kids figure out the problem that I have and they are rather gentle with their response at a later time. My oldest son has this exact same reaction as me, which means that we duke it out immediately. He can ignore consequence as I can, but he doesn't have the experience to know to avoid these bad interactions. Other people don't understand it at all.
    Solfe, Dominus Maris Pavos.

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    "Fight or flight" is the classic way of describing the physiological changes, and emotional responses, associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Something unexpected happens, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, and you're ready to flee in fear or attack in anger.
    But there seems to be a low-grade alerting of the sympathetic system if you're in a situation where unexpected danger is more likely - you can see this in telemetered wild prey animals, when their sightlines are interrupted, and you can detect higher levels of stress hormones in the urine of prey animals if they are living in a predator-rich environment.
    Humans are quite good at generating that sort of low-level stress for themselves, because we can reflect on our situation more than animals. The less of a sense of control we have over what's going to happen to us, the more low-grade stress we experience. And the "fight or flight" turns up in constant low-grade fearfulness, or of contant low-grade anger.

    People who are ill in hospital have lost a lot of their "locus of control". Their stress can show up in what seems like demanding behaviour, bursts of anger, exaggerated fear of procedures. That makes health-care professionals instinctively reluctant to interact with them, which means they have even less locus of control, which means they're more stressed, which means their behaviour becomes even more "unreasonable". Good doctors and nurses can be detected by the fact they tend to move towards these patients while everyone else is moving away. I used to teach my trainees that the best thing to do was to arrive at the patient's bedside carrying a chair - plonk it down, sit in it, send the message up front that you are going to devote time to any discussion that arises, and then do that. If you can give a person back some sense of understanding and control over events in their lives, their stress decreases, their fear and anger decreases, and all sorts of nice physiological changes occur that are good for healing and recovery.
    And all that by listening to people and then talking to them! Who'd've thought it! (That's irony, by the way.)

    Grant Hutchison

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    I believe that anger leads to hate, which itself followed fear. Hate, in turn, generally leads to suffering. Ultimately, this chain of conscious states inevitably leads to the Dark Side of the Force. A coin with two sides.

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    The healthy purpose of anger is to define the bounds of society.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    I think sometimes when we are frightened, it triggers a sort of anger response, which would be a natural survival mechanism to evolve. If our ancestors were frightened by an approaching threat, then anger would help motivate a response.
    ...
    Maybe this is obvious, I don' know.
    Yep. As Grant mentioned, it is described as the "fight or flight" instinct. And it's not limited to humans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    I think sometimes when we are frightened, it triggers a sort of anger response, which would be a natural survival mechanism to evolve. If our ancestors were frightened by an approaching threat, then anger would help motivate a response.
    This may not be totally true, but generally speaking my anger tends to be directly mostly toward human beings. For example, I can be scared of wasps because it hurts when they sting, but I don't feel angry toward them. I suppose I understand that stinging is what they do, so I don't expect them to behave better. With a snake, I would definitely be afraid if I saw a rattlesnake in front of me, but I wouldn't be angry at it for trying to bite me. Similarly, I wouldn't get angry if a baby dropped something on me and it hurt, but I might get angry at the parent for not supervising, because I realize the baby doesn't know any better and is just doing what a baby is supposed to do. So it seems that at least in humans, anger seems to have something to do with "knowing better." I'm afraid of heights but I don't get angry at bridges.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    This may not be totally true, but generally speaking my anger tends to be directly mostly toward human beings. For example, I can be scared of wasps because it hurts when they sting, but I don't feel angry toward them. I suppose I understand that stinging is what they do, so I don't expect them to behave better. With a snake, I would definitely be afraid if I saw a rattlesnake in front of me, but I wouldn't be angry at it for trying to bite me. Similarly, I wouldn't get angry if a baby dropped something on me and it hurt, but I might get angry at the parent for not supervising, because I realize the baby doesn't know any better and is just doing what a baby is supposed to do. So it seems that at least in humans, anger seems to have something to do with "knowing better." I'm afraid of heights but I don't get angry at bridges.

    But you might ve angry if you found out a bridge you hsd used many times had been found to be dangerous through human negligence.

    If a tiger ate someone I cared about I would be angry too.
    ................

  9. #9
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    The interoceptive model is shifted into fight mode by the amygdala and the fear and anger responses are produced in the cortex. The range of anger will depend on the way these models compete for dominance. If you see an angry person red in the face for example, the flight or flight phase has passed into indignation because blood drains from the face in preparation for muscle action. Anger can also be triggered purely by conscious thought, not requiring a physical stimulus such as a tiger or a loud noise. However an over active amygdala can also present as sudden and inappropriate anger. That's not healthy and maybe part of ptsd for example.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
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    I remember my old professor of medicine trying to construct an emotional diagnostic based on the colour of the face - he said that a stressed person who was white in the face was more likely to be violently aggressive than a person who was red in the face, because they were experiencing more anger than fear. I now suspect he was riffing on the work of Ax, back in the 50s, which suggested that fear induced the release of primarily epinephrine, while anger produced both epinephrine and norepinephrine. Given the receptors these hormones work on, you could expect more vasoconstriction with anger than with fear. And yet folk knowledge suggests exactly the opposite - it's always red with rage, pale with fear.

    Certainly the only time an alleged grown-up has attempted to punch me, he was impressively red and sweaty in the face at the time.
    I've also seen teeth-chatteringly terrified people with red, sweaty faces (I used to get to meet terrified people sometimes, professionally. I was part of the solution, not part of the problem.)

    I think more recent experiments and reviews have suggested that the actually average physiological differences between fear and anger are small, and between-individual and within-individual variability is large.

    Grant Hutchison

  11. #11
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    If I understand correctly the fast amygdala response is a call to action in response to a stimulus and then the cortex "decides" whether to feel fear anger or neither depending on the learned assessment. It's not really a decision because it is still a learned response. An example would be a jack in the box rubber snake that would set your amygdala off but the higher brain would quickly realise it's a joke. However a real snake would require more complex decisions and the adrenaline would help prepare for action. The system is not perfect, I once got a sudden fear while climbing and was paralysed for minutes until I could get control of myself. That was fear and not anger. Anger is more complex because it can be triggered by perceived unfairness or injustice with no physical threat.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  12. #12
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    Loss or lack of control can create fear, which could lead to anger.
    Dip me in ink and toss me to the Poets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Anger is more complex because it can be triggered by perceived unfairness or injustice with no physical threat.
    Fear can be triggered in the absence of physical threat, too - ask anyone with PTSD, panic attacks, night terrors or simply a tendency to rumination on potential bad outcomes.
    Our human ability to reflect, and to consider hypotheticals, means we can ramp up our sympathetic nervous systems in the absence of external threats.

    Grant Hutchison

  14. 2017-Apr-24, 02:26 AM
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