When uncontrolled anger becomes a soldier's enemy
Economic setbacks, work pressures and the annoyances of daily life such as long lines and rush-hour traffic can cause otherwise calm people to snap and lose their cool. But when anger begins to affect personal relationships, on-the-job performance and physical health, its time for an intervention.
UC Irvines Raymond Novaco is a leading authority on the psychology of anger and violence. He pioneered the field of anger management in the 1970s, later extending that work to hospitalized patients and Vietnam combat veterans. Recently, he has applied his anger assessment research to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
A substantial number of our current war veterans have difficulty controlling their anger, says Novaco, professor of psychology & social behavior. This has serious implications for their ability to maintain supportive personal relationships and jobs.
Researchers have found that 57 percent of combat veterans who used Veterans Affairs medical services experienced more problems controlling anger since homecoming. About 35 percent said they had thoughts or concerns about hurting someone, and of those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, 84 percent reported greater difficulty in anger management.
Novaco recently developed and tested his seven-question screening tool that assesses anger among combat veterans and predicts their risk for violence and self-harm by measuring the frequency, intensity and duration of anger episodes and their psychosocial effects.
In collaboration with psychologists Rob Swanson, Mark Reger and Gregory Gahm at Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington, Novaco and graduate student Oscar Gonzalez used the questionnaire to evaluate more than 3,500 treatment-seeking soldiers who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Study findings strongly validated the anger measure, including its association with functional impairments in relationships, job performance and coping skills, as well as with substance use. Novacos assessment tool was also conclusively related to the risk of harm to self or others, controlling for many background factors and symptoms of PTSD and depression.
The results are published online in Psychological Assessment, a journal of the American Psychological Association, in advance of its printed issue.
Anger is part of the human fabric, the emotional component of the fight-or-flight response to threats, Novaco says. It becomes a problem when its too frequent, too intense, lasts too long and activates violence.
Managing anger is fundamentally about self-regulation, he notes, and starts with self-monitoring.
Someone with a recurrent anger problem has a broken thermostat, Novaco says. One of the first goals in anger treatment is to boost self-monitoring capacity. The ability to recognize early physical signs of anger such as tense muscles, rapid breathing and agitation is an important step toward controlling it.
The anger treatment that he developed and used in past work with Vietnam veterans is called stress inoculation, in which anger-provoking situations are simulated in imaginal and role-playing exposures. These graduated doses of stress produce anger antibodies, building coping skills and moderating the individuals reactions in real-life scenarios.
Learning how to change ones perceptions of upsetting situations, improving ones problem-solving abilities and mastering arousal reduction techniques breathing exercises and guided imagery, for example are crucial to anger management, Novaco says.
He hopes his findings prompt greater attention to the assessment of anger in behavioral health evaluations of post-deployed service members. For most veterans, Novaco notes, the cost of staying angry is a lot higher than the cost of trying to change.
Provided by University of California, Irvine
- Study: Specific PTSD symptoms related to anger and aggressiveness among Iraq/Afghanistan veterans Jun 15, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Research shows it can be good to get angry at work Aug 10, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Jul 01, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- The dark side of Oxytocin Aug 01, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Heavy drinking linked to more frequent and more severe aggression in relationships Jul 05, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
8 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
Psychology & Psychiatry 9 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
What effect does a father's depression have on his young son or daughter? When fathers report a high level of emotional intimacy in their marriage, their children benefit, said a University of Illinois study.
Psychology & Psychiatry 35 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Preschoolers universally recognize that one's choices are not always free – that our decisions may be constrained by social obligations to be nice to others or follow rules set by parents ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Do ethicists engage in better moral behavior than other professors? The answer is no. Nor are they more likely than nonethicists to act according to values they espouse, according to researchers from the ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 1 |
A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine ...
30 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A man who had contracted the coronavirus has died in Saudi Arabia, raising the death toll in the kingdom from the SARS-like virus to 17, the health ministry announced on its website on Wednesday.
4 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
GlaxoSmithKline PLC says it's starting an unusual collaboration with the U.S. government to develop several antibiotics for both bioterrorism threats and bacterial infections resistant to current medicines.
2 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers report that hospitals may be reaping enormous income for patients whose hospital stays are complicated by preventable bloodstream infections contracted in their intensive care units.
32 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The World Health Organization says the Horn of Africa is experiencing an outbreak of polio with cases confirmed in Kenya and Somalia.
2 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
A University of Illinois researcher says that the cornerstone of our efforts to alleviate food insecurity should be to encourage more people to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) "because ...
34 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0