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Anger and Anatomy

By Shannon Munford

They say that youth is wasted on the young. I'm only 34 years old so depending on the crowd I'm in I still consider my self to be pretty young. One of the traits of the young and strong is that they rarely think about their health. That's why they can drink to excess, take up arms in the sexual revolution, sky dive, bungee jump and never think "Hey this may kill me! Don't get me wrong I like a little adventure and I try to keep in shape, I work out, try and eat right but that's just so I can continue to see my shoes below my stomach. The truth is I don't really think about my mortality much. Heart Disease, Cancer, Chronic Pain are not things that stay on my mind.

The reality is everything you do today will determine the type of life you live tomorrow. This is true when it comes to anger and what it can do to your body. I'm not a doctor and I honestly can't stand the sight of blood. If my wife cuts her finger washing dishes you will find me running in terror into the other room. Medical terminology puts me to sleep and I don't know an artery from an adrenal gland but I have to admit and you probably do too that there is a direct link between our emotions and our bodies.

Just think about it. What happens when we are sad? We cry. When we are nervous? We sweat. Our emotions can cause actual physical changes from headaches and tight muscles to ulcers and acne. Our emotions are even responsible for the stimulation and activation of our reproductive systems.

Anger is an emotion than can work havoc on our physical bodies. According to Dr. Don Colbert, the author of "Deadly Emotions anger and hostility can cause an individual to release the hormone adrenaline and norepinephrine into their blood stream. Norepinephine, try saying that, 3 times fast. Norepinephine, norepinephine, norepinephine, oh well lets move on. Both hormones raise blood pressure, increase the heart rate and elevate the cholesterol level in the body. Our breathing becomes shallow, we may sweat, and you may see a vein pop out in the middle of our foreheads. If these conditions continue over an expanded periods of time individuals could be at risk of heart attack or stroke.

We also find that the sudden rush of adrenaline into or blood stream can cause or bodies to perform extraordinary acts of strength. That reminds me of another television series. Do you remember the original Incredible Hulk, The one with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno? Whenever I watch poor, skinny Bill Bixby try to lift the burning car off of his dying wife I sadly ask myself, - How come his adrenaline doesn't kick now? In fact it was experimenting with adrenaline and radiation that got him in trouble. It was that adrenaline/radiation cocktail that turned him into and out of control raging green Hulk. Adrenaline has the same affect on us too. No, it won't turn you green but it may cause you to exhibit some fairly dangerous behavior.

Roger a former client of mine seemed to be a really nice guy. He smiled a lot, had a decent job and appeared to be overall pretty pleasant. As he recounted the story of how he was ordered into my class it was apparent that a rush of adrenaline fueled by anger and fear was responsible for his otherwise out of character behavior.

Roger was on vacation in Lake Havasu, California. At 45 he just wanted to enjoy a nice quiet weekend on the Lake with his family. As he docked his boat that day he was a little tired and a lot sunburned. Roger noticed his nephew, a persistent hothead in an argument with another vacationer. As the argument escalated into a physical altercation, Roger rushed to the aid of his nephew in an attempt to break up the fight. He suddenly found himself in the fight and in self-defense Roger landed a right hook on the jaw of his nephews opponent. Roger witnessed him falling to the ground and noticed a hurried blur running towards him from behind. Without thinking, Roger through up his hands and backslapped the approaching individual. When Roger was able to calm down and turn around he discovered that he had struck the victims girlfriend smack in the mouth. She lay about 30 feet from the spot where she was hit. A quiet vacation on the lake had quickly turned into a night in jail and a charge of woman beating.

The physical and psychological affects of anger can propel even the most docile individuals into an aggressive attack. It is to late to take and anger management class when you are provoked. You must understand yourself and how you react to various triggers in life before a confrontation arises.

About The Author

Shannon Munford is the founder of Daybreak Counseling Service, a anger management education center in Los Angeles, California. He provides quality anger management education for adults, adolescents and couples. You can reach him at 310-995-1202 or visit


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