Anger is arguably the most complex of human emotions. Even though it looks raw and brutally honest, it usually works as a cover-up mechanism for unrecognized or unwanted states of mind, such as fear, sadness, forgotten trauma, issues with self-esteem. There are various types of anger, each of which can show and hide different aspects of you.

Anger is a natural emotional reaction to the situations or people that we find threatening, disrespectful, hurting, or frustrating. Its manifestation can range from mere annoyance to full-blown rage.

Nevertheless, it's just as valid and necessary emotion as love, sadness, or joy. It speaks volumes about your personality, about your past, and about the things you care about the most in life.

This is, however, an emotion that requires a lot of introspection and action to solve the real underlying issue. Even though the reasons for somebody's wrath can seem external, our reactions are always ours and as we grow into adults we become solely responsible for them.

Different types of anger

Ephrem Fernandez, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has introduced the six dimensions of anger expression that can help to identify the different types of this emotion.

The Six Bipolar Dimensions are these:

  • direction (internal vs external)
  • locus of control (the degree to which one believes to have control over one's anger)
  • reaction (retaliatory vs resistant)
  • modality (physical vs verbal)
  • impulsivity (controlled vs uncontrolled)
  • objective (restorative vs punitive)

Although different sources suggest a different number of types of rage and annoyance, here's a selection of the most popular and best-recognized ones out there.

7 common forms of anger:

1. Passive aggressive

unhappy couple

This one is the most avoidant type of anger and arguably the most irritating to those around such person. It indicates the person's unhealthy relationship with this emotion, believing that it's inherently wrong, punishable, or socially unacceptable. It can stem from certain childhood traumas, such as being forced to bottle up all the negative emotions.

This type of anger can be much more emotionally and physically draining to the one expressing it than the more overt types. It can be expressed by silence treatment, sarcasm, procrastination, or mockery.

Management tips and directions:

Reconnecting with anger as a valid emotion; improving communication skills; exploring the fear of confrontation; relaxation techniques.

2. Volatile / Sudden

This type of anger comes as if out of nowhere. It's an impulsive reaction to whatever is perceived even the tiniest bit annoying. Because it's so unpredictable, it can eventually force everyone around such person to walk on their tip-toes or avoid the person altogether. And rightly so, as this sort of manifestation of rage can be very destructive, emotionally and physically.

Management tips and directions:

Trigger journaling; relaxation techniques; identifying physical signs before the outburst.

3. Deliberate

This type of anger is one of the positive ones. This is used as a technique by managers, coaches, leaders, activists, and other people whose interest is to hype up, motivate and prepare their teams or audiences for a battle, a game, a protest, or a personal transformation.

4. Behavioral

breaking stuff

This type of anger manifests in a very straight-forward way – physically. An enraged person can physically attack someone or start smashing and breaking inanimate objects. Such a person tends to act first and think later. The emotion can be very overwhelming and vanish as suddenly as it appeared.

Management tips and directions:

Anger management counseling; breathing techniques; Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy; learning to recognize the physical cues of rising anger; removing yourself from conflicting situation to regain self-control.

5. Self-abusive

This type is the one driven by covert shame, guilt, and low self-esteem in general. It can be expressed indirectly by negative self-talk, substance abuse, physical self-harm, and disorderly eating patterns. It can also manifest in rage outbursts towards others, which only deepens the feelings of loneliness, alienation, and guilt.

Management tips and directions:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy; positive psychology techniques; mindfulness meditation; self-love and affirmation journaling. 

6. Chronic

This type indicates the long-lasting and unresolved emotional issues. These manifest themselves indirectly by constant frustration and resentment towards others and, often, towards oneself. This type of person is likely to be described as bitter, mean, or spiteful. It can seriously affect a person's mental, emotional, and physical health.

Management tips and directions:

The longer this type of anger is accumulated, the deeper roots it has, so long-form psychotherapy that focuses on childhood and adolescence might be useful. Loving-Kindness meditation; gratitude journaling.

7. Addictive / Habitual

This type of anger is closely connected to the adrenaline and dopamine rushes that a person experiences when enraged. This is a sort of natural "high" that can become emotionally and physically addictive. Also, the powerful stance over others also chips in the need to repeat this scheme of communication.

Just like with most addictions, they grow from habits and eventually take over the wheel of control. Such communication patterns can usually be seen in other members of the family, so it could have been learned at home.

Management tips and directions:

A person may not see it as a problem, not even when others around them tell them it is. It can be very problematic to convince such a person to change the very behavior that they know is making them feel good. Family intervention; meditation; anger management courses.

8. Moral / Judgmental

It manifests as righteous indignation at someone else's actions that are perceived as unjust, wrong, or incorrect. These people see themselves as natural moral compasses and they just can't look the other way when something not according to the rules is happening just in front of their eyes.

This is not necessarily a destructive type of anger, as it can be harnessed and focused to make a greater change. But such a person is at risk of alienation. This type of anger can also be a feature of certain personality types and a characteristic of Asperger's syndrome.

Management tips and directions:

The more honest people surround you, the better chances you have at recognizing this in yourself. The focus of work should be the heightened need for control and judgmental criticism.

Written by Audra Bajori
Audra is a writer, an ethical vegan, a compulsive self-experimenter and health-hacker, who plans on living for at least 100 years. She's also a cinephile,...
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