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When Fear Leads to Anger + How to Use Anger Constructively with Author and TEDx Speaker Dr. Ryan Martin (Episode 6)

Nov 4, 2021

Are you having trouble with anger management?

Newborn babies can express emotion from the moment they are born. While it’s easy to define what emotions are, understanding them is a more complex idea. Emotions like pleasure, surprise, disgust, and distress are present from birth.

In the next few weeks and months, babies learn to express joy, anger, sadness, and fear. These negative and positive emotions evolve as we go through life. Sometimes, these emotions get out of hand and often lead many into a downward spiral.

Being unable to deal with negative emotions especially can be quite destructive. If you struggle with anger issues, the root cause may be fear. Read on to discover how fear leads to anger.

When Fear Leads to Anger

In the 1980s, psychologist Robert Plutchik developed the emotion wheel. The emotion wheel states that fear is the opposite of anger but is that the case? What is the connection between fear and anger?

Delving deeper into the topic, it’s easier to see that anger stems from fear. It isn’t uncommon to become frustrated and annoyed over something you can’t grasp. Others might find it easier to brush off frustrations and anger that stems from fear or anxiety.

Unfortunately for some, fear and anger are more uncontrollable. There are even studies that show that fear-based anger is a major ground for violence. Anger leads to hate; in turn, hate leads to suffering.

In the end, it all leads to grave acts like bullying, abuse, and even homicide. When things spiral and fear leads to anger, anger management is an option to prioritize.

Why Does Fear Lead to Anger?

Fear is generally a healthy emotion. It triggers the “fight or flight” response that has kept the human species alive for millennia. However, life and society become a bit more overwhelming as the years pass.

Our fear response may develop according to the environment we grew up in. For some, anger becomes a defense mechanism to anxiety or fear. This is why fear is the path to anger.

The path to anger is a slippery slope and can be the same path to the dark side. Regulating your emotions may feel overwhelming when daily life becomes too much. If anger is your only logical output, it’s time to realize that it’s one of the worst and unhealthiest ways to cope.

To some, when fear leads to anger, they may also find themselves stuck in a rut of depression. While it might feel like you’re lost in the dark side, fear leads you to believe the worst of the worst. Sometimes, your brain might find it difficult to realize when it’s safe.

Get off the Path of Fear and Anger

When fear leads to anger, you need to know how to control negative emotions and don’t let them get the best of you. Neglecting mental health can lead to a domino effect. Counseling and therapy are great first steps to start taking control of your emotional health.

In this episode, Dr. Kate Balestrieri discusses anger, its roots, how to make constructive use of anger. They discuss how anger is a necessary emotion, and also discuss alexithymia, and how normalized male alexithymia can lead to anger and aggression.

Dr. Martin researches and writes about healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger. Author of the book, Why We Get Mad: How to Use Your Anger for Positive Change, he also hosts the popular psychology podcast, Psychology and Stuff.  He was trained as a counseling psychologist at the University of Southern Mississippi, after earning his undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from the University of St. Thomas.  Dr. Ryan is a Professor of Psychology and an Associate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Follow him on TikTok and IG @angerprofessor.



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