Post-traumatic anger becomes maladaptive interfering with individuals’ ability to adapt and or cope. Anger is a fundamental and safe core emotion of a child or adult survivor’s response to trauma because of the betrayal and losing basic trust. Anger is a core feature of the trauma survival response in men and women. Therefore, anger is a safe and less vulnerable feeling that can be expressed as an emotion helping individuals cope with vulnerable and fearful situations.
WD Recovery and Wellness Center explains how anger and trauma are connected to an individual’s natural survival instinct. When an individual is initially confronted with a threat, anger is a normal response that covers over her. Childhood abuse is a terrorizing situation that often becomes a repeated situation. Anger is a normal response to situations of terror, situations that seem unfair, and the feelings of “feeling out of control”. individuals may use alcohol and drugs, food, exercise, hair pulling, sex, and self-harm to reduce uncomfortable feelings and memories. Learning distress tolerance as opposed escape and avoidance patterns away from uncomfortable feelings. Being PRESENT at the moment is key to recovery.
Anger becomes the controlling thought which is a “fixed or stuck feeling” as a protective response in men and women with childhood trauma. With early childhood trauma, the abuse interferes with an individual’s ability to self-regulate emotions. Feelings become perceived as vulnerable. The vulnerable feelings need protection. Anger covers the individual as a safe but uncomfortable feeling in which a trauma victim can express Anger as a safe and self-protective emotion. Vulnerable situations can be perceived as “threats” becoming “fixed or covered over by the individual’s thoughts with automatic reactive responses” in persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Individuals, combat military personnel including navy seals who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often, describe feeling an increased internal activation. The anger can become “fixed or stuck” as the normal level of arousal can intensify the actual psychological, emotional, and physical experience of anger. The arousal often can cause men and women with PTSD to feel constantly on edge, hyped-up, or irritable and can cause individuals to be more easily provoked. It is common for traumatized individuals to seek out situations that require them to stay alert and defend themselves from actual or potential danger. Again, individuals may use alcohol and drugs, food, exercise, hair pulling, sex, and self-harm to reduce and dispel overall internal tension and arousal.
In early childhood abuse, post-traumatic anger becomes maladaptive in which individuals recognize the anger as a protective. The physical, emotional, or sexual traumatic event interferes with an individual’s ability to self-regulate emotions, which leads to frequent episodes of labile or out-of-control emotions of anger and rage.