The Deadly Emotions: The Role of Anger, Hostility, and Aggression in Health and Emotional Well-Being

The Deadly Emotions: The Role of Anger, Hostility, and Aggression in Health and Emotional Well-Being

The Deadly Emotions: The Role of Anger, Hostility, and Aggression in Health and Emotional Well-Being

The Deadly Emotions: The Role of Anger, Hostility, and Aggression in Health and Emotional Well-Being

Synopsis

Evidence has established a link between emotions and health but this link is not yet understood. The Deadly Emotions reviews this complex topic through the integration and interpretation of current research. Johnson suggests a potentially deadly role for anger, hostility, and aggression (AHA syndrome) in several health problems including heart disease, cancer, ulcers, and hypertension. He also explores the relationship between AHA syndrome and psychological problems such as depression, chronic stress, smoking, drinking, and child/spouse abuse.

Excerpt

Anger, hostility, and aggression have recently emerged from the black box that contains our worst wishes and thoughts to be considered as potential risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and other health problems. From a historical point of view, the maladaptive effects of these negative emotions in the etiology of psychological difficulties such as depression, neuroses, and schizophrenia have long been emphasized. Anger, particularly when manifested as chronic hostility, has recently been linked with the Type-A behavior pattern, coronary heart disease (CHD), death from CHD and malignant neoplasms, and death from all causes combined. Interestingly enough, a number of studies relate high levels of anger and hostility to the classic risk factors (e.g., cholesterol, smoking, drinking) that have been shown to predict heart disease, cancer, and other major health problems. In addition to these relatively recent attempts to link personality factors to poor physical health, scientists studying more psychosomatic illness over the past 40 years have revealed a rather consistent relationship between essential hypertension (high blood pressure) and problematic styles of expressing anger. Suppressed anger, or the tendency to experience intense feelings of anger but not express them, has also been shown to be related to rheumatoid arthritis and malignant breast cancer in women. Problematic ways of coping with anger and abrasive marital relationships not only erode the love even between couples once so much in love that they were almost inseparable, but also contribute to both child and spouse abuse. As current studies of women and men undergoing marital separation/divorce also show, the degree of psychological distress caused by such an unpleasant proceeding leads to adverse immunological changes that probably increase the incidence of infectious diseases.

Although there are hundreds of articles published in the medical literature discussing the linkage between poor physical health and . . .

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