Rage (emotion)

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Artist's sketches that show two types of extreme emotions; the right illustration shows rage mixed with fear. Physiognomy.jpg
Artist's sketches that show two types of extreme emotions; the right illustration shows rage mixed with fear.
Rage, Tacuinum Sanitatis casanatensis (14th century). 47-aspetti di vita quotidiana,ira,Taccuino Sanitatis, Casana.jpg
Rage, Tacuinum Sanitatis casanatensis (14th century).
Angel with Temperance and Humility virtues versus Devil with Rage and Anger sins. A fresco from the 1717 Saint Nicolas church in Cukovets, Pernik Province, Bulgaria Rage-and-anger-fresco.jpg
Angel with Temperance and Humility virtues versus Devil with Rage and Anger sins. A fresco from the 1717 Saint Nicolas church in Cukovets, Pernik Province, Bulgaria

Rage (also known as frenzy or fury) is intense, uncontrolled anger that is an increased stage of hostile response to a perceived egregious injury or injustice. [1]



Rage is from c. 1300, meaning "madness, insanity; fit of frenzy; rashness, foolhardiness, intense or violent emotion, anger, wrath; fierceness in battle; violence" (of storms, fire, etc.); from the Old French rage or raige, meaning "spirit, passion, rage, fury, madness"; from 11th century Medieval Latin rabia; from the Latin rabies, meaning "madness, rage, fury," which is related to the Latin rabere "be mad, rave." [2]

There are many cognates. The Latin rabies, meaning "anger, fury", is akin to the Sanskrit "raag" (violence). [3] The Vulgar Latin spelling of the word possesses many cognates when translated into many of the modern Romance languages, such as Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Portuguese, and modern Italian: rabia, rabia, ràbia, raiva, and rabbia respectively.

Symptoms and effects

Rage can sometimes lead to a state of mind where the individuals experiencing it believe they can do, and often are capable of doing, things that may normally seem physically impossible. Those experiencing rage usually feel the effects of high adrenaline levels in the body. This increase in adrenal output raises the physical strength and endurance levels of the person and sharpens their senses, while dulling the sensation of pain. High levels of adrenaline impair memory. Temporal perspective is also affected: people in a rage have described experiencing events in slow-motion. Time dilation occurs due to the individual becoming hyper aware of the hind brain (the seat of fight or flight).[ citation needed ] Rational thought and reasoning would inhibit an individual from acting rapidly upon impulse. An older explanation of this "time dilation" effect is that instead of actually slowing our perception of time, high levels of adrenaline increase our ability to recall specific minutiae of an event after it occurs. Since humans gauge time based on the number of things they can remember, high-adrenaline events such as those experienced during periods of rage seem to unfold more slowly. [4]

A person in a state of rage may also lose much of their capacity for rational thought and reasoning, and may act, usually violently, on their impulses to the point that they may attack until they themselves have been incapacitated or the source of their rage has been destroyed or otherwise removed. A person in rage may also experience tunnel vision, muffled hearing, increased heart rate, and hyperventilation. Their vision may also become "rose-tinted" (hence "seeing red"). They often focus only on the source of their anger. The large amounts of adrenaline and oxygen in the bloodstream may cause a person's extremities to shake. Psychiatrists consider rage to be at one end of the spectrum of anger, and annoyance to be at the other side. [5]

In 1995, rage was hypothesized to occur when oxytocin, vasopressin, and corticotropin-releasing hormone are rapidly released from the hypothalamus. This results in the pituitary gland producing and releasing large amounts of the adrenocorticotropic hormone, which causes the adrenal cortex to release corticosteroids. This chain reaction occurs when faced with a threatening situation. [6]

Nearly two decades later, more came to be known about the impacts of high epinephrine. As the focus in neuroscience began to shift towards the roles of white matter tissues, a more full bodied understanding of this complex emotion was able to be extrapolated.

Memory, being the “retention of perceptions”, can be viewed as a giant mosaic.(Robertson, 2002)[ citation needed ] This mosaic would consist of fragmented perceptions (tiles) being held together by astrocytes (glue), creating resistance. A ratio of 3:2 could indicate an increased demand on neurons being held together, or insulated. This also raises the possibility that a more developed memory improved an individual’s fitness.

In addition, an increase in white matter tissues assisted in an individual's ability to adapt to new cultures and environments. The metaphor of a kaleidoscope is often utilized when expressing the extraordinary ability humans have at adapting to different cultures by engaging in different patterns of thought. Our ability to perceive patterns of behavior assists in our ability to utilize inductive reasoning, a type of reasoning that can assist in an individual's ability to think of how their behaviors may impact their future. Such lines of reasoning are strengthened through the use of deductive reasoning. Together, inductive and deductive reasoning have assisted in developing adaptive conflict management strategies that assist in the cessation of rage caused by cognitive dissonance.[ citation needed ]

Astrocytes play a pivotal role in regulating blood flow to and from neurons by creating the blood-brain barrier (BBB). [7] More specifically, these astrocytes are found in close proximity to the ‘end feet’ of blood vessels. These astrocytes aid in the tightening and expansion of the blood vessels to regulate which nutrients make their way to the neurons. [8] The BBB protects the brain from toxins and helps transport things such as oxygen and glucose to the brain.

This system plays a crucial role in the regulation of memory. Studies have suggested that glucose, together with epinephrine from the adrenal medulla have an effect on memory. Although high doses of epinephrine have been proven to impair memory, moderate doses of epinephrine actually enhance memory. [9] This leads to questioning the role that epinephrine has played on the evolution of the genus Homo as well as epinephrine's crucial role during fits of rage. The crucial role that astrocytes play in the formation of muscle memory may also shed light on the beneficial impact of meditation and deep breathing as a method of managing and controlling one's rage.

Health complications

Some research suggests that an individual is more susceptible to having feelings of depression and anxiety if he or she experiences rage on a frequent basis. Health complications become much worse if an individual represses feelings of rage. [10] John E. Sarno believes that repressed rage in the subconscious leads to physical ailments. Cardiac stress and hypertension are other health complications that will occur when rage is experienced on a regular basis. Psychopathologies such as depression and [11] posttraumatic stress disorder regularly present comorbidly with rage. [12]


Types of therapy

Evidence has shown that behavioral and cognitive therapy techniques have assisted individuals that have difficulties controlling their anger or rage. Role playing and personal study are the two main techniques used to aid individuals with managing rage. Role playing is utilized by angering an individual to the point of rage and then showing them how to control it. [13] Multi-modal cognitive therapy is another treatment used to help individuals cope with anger. This therapy teaches individuals relaxation techniques, problem solving skills, and techniques on response disruption. This type of therapy has proven to be effective for individuals that are highly stressed and are prone to rage. [14]

An emerging business is the rage room, a place where people relieve their stress by destroying objects within a room. [15]


According to psychologists, rage is an in-born behavior that every person exhibits in some form. Rage is often used to denote hostile/affective/reactive aggression. [16] Rage tends to be expressed when a person faces a threat to their pride, position, ability to deceive others, self-deceptive beliefs, or socioeconomic status. [17] This maladaptive conflict management strategy often stems from cognitive dissonance, most simply put, a 'no' where a 'yes' has been.[ clarification needed ][ citation needed ]

Cases in which rage is exhibited as a direct response to an individual's deeply held religious beliefs, may directly be related to cognitive dissonance in relation to an individual's ability to manage the terror associated with death and dying. Many researchers have questioned whether Hindu/Buddhist concepts, such as reincarnation and nibbâna, help ease death anxieties. Coleman and Ka-Ying Hui (2012) stated that “according to the Terror Management Theory, a religious concept of an afterlife helps people manage their personal death anxiety” (949). This suggests that rage, in relation to religious ideas, may stem from an inability to manage feelings of terror.

Some psychologists, however, such as Bushman and Anderson, argue that the hostile/predatory dichotomy that is commonly employed in psychology fails to define rage fully, since it is possible for anger to motivate aggression, provoking vengeful behavior, without incorporating the impulsive thinking that is characteristic of rage. They point to individuals or groups such as Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech massacre or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of the Columbine High School massacre, all of whom clearly experienced intense anger and hate, but whose planning (sometimes over periods of years), forethought, and lack of impulsive behavior is readily observable. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. Cf. The APA definition of anger Archived 2018-09-21 at the Wayback Machine ("an emotion characterized by tension and hostility arising from frustration, real or imagined injury by another, or perceived injustice") and rage Archived 2018-09-21 at the Wayback Machine ("intense, typically uncontrolled anger. It is usually differentiated from hostility in that it is not necessarily accompanied by destructive actions but rather by excessive expressions").
  2. "rage". Online Etymological Dictionary. Douglas Harper. 2021. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  3. "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  4. Eagleman, et al., 2007
  5. DiGiuseppe & Tafrate., 2006.
  6. Jezova et al., 1995; Sapolsky, 1992.
  7. (Lundgaard I et al., 2013)
  8. (Frank 2013)
  9. (Gold, 2013)
  10. Begley, 1994.
  11. Levin, Andrew P. (2014). "DSM-5 and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder" (PDF). The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 42 (2): 146–158. PMID   24986341. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  12. Painuly et al., 2005
  13. Willner et al., 2002; Lishman et al., 2008.
  14. Gerzina & Drummond, 2000.
  15. business where people can vent their anger by destroying objects within a room
  16. Fontaine, 2007
  17. Anderson, 2001.
  18. DiGiuseppe & Tafrate, 2006.