Angrophobia, or the fear of anger, is a relatively complex phobia. In fact, many therapists conceptualize the fear of one’s own anger not specifically as a phobia, but as related to the individual’s personality style and unconscious conflicts. The term refers specifically to the fear of becoming angry rather than the fear of others becoming angry with you. Like all phobias, angrophobia varies widely in both its symptoms and its severity from one person to the next.
Causes of Angrophobia
Although angrophobia does not always have a demonstrable cause, in most cases it is related to a traumatic past event. People whose parents were frequently angry and those who suffered from child abuse may be at increased risk for developing this fear. Those who were punished for expressing anger may also be more likely to develop angrophobia.
Symptoms of Angrophobia
In general, people with angrophobia tend to go out of their way to avoid conflict. Many become passive and quiet, allowing others to take the lead. Those with a more severe fear may intentionally isolate themselves, avoiding social situations that they perceive as having a chance for conflict.
When conflict arises, people with angrophobia tend to look for escape routes. Leaving the house, walking out of business meetings and deserting friends at a restaurant or bar are common reactions. If escape is impossible, those with this fear often withdraw into themselves, cutting off communication until the crisis is over.
Complications of Angrophobia
Anger is an unavoidable human emotion. Although many of us express anger in unhealthy ways, choosing not to express it all is just as dangerous. People with angrophobia tend to bottle up their feelings, pretending that they do not exist. However, bottled-up feelings generally turn inward over time. Increased fear and anxiety, hopelessness, depression and guilt are common. Suppressing these feelings can then lead to self-doubt and even self-loathing. Eventually, those who suppress their feelings are at an increased risk for “snapping,” unloading their pent-up emotions on themselves or others in destructive ways.
Angrophobia is largely rooted in erroneous thoughts and beliefs about anger. Treatment generally focuses on working through the original conflicts that caused the fear, and exploring anger as a more neutral feeling. Psycho-education is often an important part of treatment as clients learn new ways to express anger in a healthy and healing manner.
Battling a phobia is never easy, and confronting deep-seated feelings may take some time. With hard work and a skilled therapist, however, it is possible to conquer angrophobia.