Anger is something that people delude themselves about seriously, and it never goes away. At any time you could become angry, and as much as you meditate, as much as you pray, anger doesn’t go away does it?
It just needs the trigger and there in lays the problem, the trigger. People villainize the emotion, blaming it for the problems it’s linked to or for the misconduct it supposedly leads you to. But for those who know me well I would ask you this, do I seem out of control? I am almost constantly angry. It could be attributed to the weird neural architecture that also makes me autistic, but the reptilian complex in my brain doesn’t have the same measure of inhibitory controls as a “normal” person does.
We don’t have one brain, we have three that are networked. The first and even in normal cases most powerful is not our thinking brain, it’s the r-complex. The part of your brain that just checks “Can I eat it?, Should I kill it?, Can I mate with it?”
Is it the r complex that is the ‘angry’ part? Yes, it’s the ‘kill it’ or ‘flee from it’ part of the r-complexes thinking. Fight or flight, and even to this day this set of reactions are very strong and people think they rise above it by denial. Is there any evidence in any of your experience that this succeeds? Pressure builds. Anger denied can turn to hate or depression, and it goes one way or the other.
The next part of the brain is called the mammalian cortex, and it is evident in everything more complex than a fish, lizard, or chicken. It’s still pretty simple though. It takes the impulses of the reptile brain and checks them. Like “I want to eat, but I shouldn’t eat that”. It’s the stage of the most early memory function. The reptile brain has very little memory. It’s more like an engine on auto-pilot, an action/reaction engine. The early mammal brain is where thoughts like “my kind keeps me safe”, or “we should feed our young as a group” reside.
The mammalian brain does the reality checking? Actually, yes. It is the stage at which the brain checks for irregularities in your environment. How this applies to anger is the anger response can be triggered when something “isn’t right”, and at an early animal level this was useful.
Example; If a lion sees rustling in what are suppose to be empty bushes, he will go charging off into them. He won’t deliberate about it. It’s an irregularity and it might be a threat to the cubs. The mammal brain hands off to the reptile brain after the “reality check” throws up a red flag. A reptile just goes by senses. At the early mammal level you have the power of anticipation, for the reptile it’s “I see it, I eat it”, or “I see it, I kill it”. For the early mammal it’s “If I think I see it, I kill it”.
Hopefully the mammal is doing a good job at directing and handing off to the reptile part? Yes, thus the instincts of pair bonding and herd safety are there. They allow reactions other than kill, eat, or mate.
Then we get into the neo-mammalian cortex, the thinking brain. It’s what we think makes us human, but if you have read any Heinlein his idea of sorting humans from human animals makes more sense. Our mammal brain gets feedback from our thinking brain, and that information is often fabricated BS but the mammal brain doesn’t sort that. It gets used to getting its feedback from the thinking brain, and then hands off to the r-complex and you can have a psychotic killing spree go down. Have someone “go-postal”.
What happens is that when a stimulus is a “threat”, and where the stimuli comes from doesn’t matter, then the r-complex throws the switch anyway. It is actually the primary brain. If you damage that section of the human brain you can produce a constant sense of threat.
How did it become that? It’s like building a house, the motor nerve ganglia are fine for mechanical function, but to survive at all life needed some ability to be self directive so the reptile brain arose.
What goes wrong when we ‘go postal’? What goes wrong is this, people are under the impression that thinking rules all, and that they can just put the “inner demon” in psychic jail and everything will be ok. This does two things:
- First it denies the individual any familiarity with their primal instincts, the id. And Freud went through all kinds of mess just to deal with quieting it. It was his whole career really, and thus why he seems so foolish now because that wasn’t enough.
- The second thing it does is route built up psychic energy in distorting ways. Twisting perception and making a glum look I might give you into a threatening glare. If you are fatigued (as you inevitably would be over time thus depression is the most common form of mental infirmity), you will act out of character and either verbally or even physically assault me.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.