Refining the construct of 'anger' in relation to personality disorders
Howard, Richard C.
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This paper highlights the importance of anger problems in psychopathology generally, and in personality disorders in particular. It argues, firstly, that problematic anger transcends traditional diagnostic boundaries and can best be viewed through the prism of the recently proposed hierarchical taxonomy of psychopathology; secondly, that anger is a heterogeneous construct that can be experienced as hedonically positive (experienced as pleasant: ‘appetitive anger’) as well as negative (experienced as unpleasant: ‘aversive anger’). Four distinct types of anger are proposed in the context of the author's quadripartite violence typology: thrill seeking and coercive (both subtypes of appetitive anger) and explosive/reactive and vengeful/ruminative (both subtypes of aversive anger). Evidence is reviewed that supports this anger typology in studies of delinquent youth. Finally, the triggers of anger are considered in relation to the 4 types of anger. It is suggested that personality disorders differ not only with regard to the type of anger with which they are associated, but also with regard to the triggers that elicit anger.