An important first step in getting a handle on your anger is understanding what style you express it in. Below are 6 of the most common personality types I have seen in my practice. Which type comes closest to describing you?
The Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde of anger personalities, Volcanoes are usually pretty relaxed people until something goes awry, then watch out! They can go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. Volcanoes have very low frustration tolerances and will take out their aggravation on who or whatever is perceived to be causing a hitch in their lives: be it co-workers, loved ones, traffic, an elevator that is slow in arriving, you name it. Oftentimes, when volcanoes calm down they recognize that they went overboard and will apologize to whoever was on the receiving end of the blast. This may work the first time or two, but people often become alienated from volcanoes when the same thing happens over and over. Oftentimes, volcanoes will see themselves as having an anger problem and vow to not react that way anymore, only to do so over and over again. Volcanoes often wish they could change, but feel themselves powerless to do so.
Stuffers internalize their anger and seethe in silence. Oftentimes they will replay a scene over and over in their minds telling themselves what they would do differently if given the chance. They may have a close friend or spouse to whom they complain to, but it is extraordinarily rare that they have an actual outward expression of anger. When they do express their anger, it is often to the extreme, as all the pent up frustration comes exploding out of them. Stuffers may also express their anger in a passive aggressive fashion.
Displacers are similar to Stuffers in that they don’t show their anger towards the person or the situation that actually caused them upset. Instead, they find a reason to become mad at someone or something else (usually someone to whom they don’t feel as threatened by). For example, a Displacer may become riled by his or her boss, but instead of expressing it towards the boss s/he may go home and yell at the kids for some trivial reason. Although it may be clear to those around them that they are playing a “mad at the wife, kick the dog” game, Displacers rarely make the connection between the two incidences themselves.
The Prickly Pear
Prickly Pears are constantly crabby. They are very good at complaining about problems, but not so good at doing anything to change their situation. They always have a complaint about something - their job, their relationship with their spouse, the raw deal life handed them, how easy others have had it compared to them you name it and the Prickly Pear will find something wrong about it. They often feel unappreciated and unloved. Prickly Pears are oftentimes the most understood of the anger personalities as they oftentimes depressed and anxious. They will frequently describe themselves as being uncomfortable in their own skin. Unfortunately their complaining makes it difficult for those around them to have much sympathy for them.
The Prosecuting Attorney
Prosecutors are known for winning the argument, but losing the war. That’s because they will question and question and question any kind of point that may differ from theirs until they find a flaw in their “opponents” logic. A Prosecutor will never give up and oftentimes simply wear their "opponent" down until he or she gives in out of pure exhaustion. Prosecutors may insist they are simply being logical and trying to make a rational decision, but it can feel like anything but to be on the receiving end. They can oftentimes be sarcastic and cutting. If a Prosecutor feels that the other has found a hole in their argument s/he may suddenly make a personal attack on the other.
Intimidators are people whose primary way of expressing themselves when angered is through physical or emotional abuse. They oftentimes will view anger or aggressiveness as an effective tool in getting what they want. Intimidators often come from abusive or conflict ridden backgrounds in which aggressiveness was the primary way of resolving conflict.