Impulsivity and aggression

Need for control

Everyone wants to be in control, all want their desires met and each one wants to pursue and attain their personal objectives. If these are thwarted, frustration is bound to occur. And when that happens, one is bound to get angry and aggressive. A traffic jam that gets you late for your important meeting, a long line at the ticket counter that prevents you from watching the movie of your choice, your child’s poor performance report card in spite of your attempts at making her study everyday, the news of you being fired although you put in your best efforts; all generate anger and hostility. This rage if not controlled appropriately can lead to impulsive behavior, which often has disastrous consequences.

Aggression: an instinct

Aggression is a part of the nature of human beings. It seems reasonable to be angry when things don’t go the right way. However some people have a tendency to always be upset and irritated. Thresholds need to be set at an acceptable point. Everything man thinks, feels and does is controlled by the chemical activity in his brain. Certain neurotransmitter alterations in the brain are known to generate belligerent behavior. Also, aggression is attributed to high testosterone, indicating why it is commoner in men. It is essential to know that like all instinctual behaviors (feeding, excretion, sexuality) aggression too can be in our own control. Acting out on an aggressive impulse implies a loss of self-control.

Environmental contribution

Certain external factors like hot sultry climate, crowded and unclean surroundings, too much crowd, exacting demands at work, interpersonal stressors, financial constraints, excessive noise, pollution etc. can contribute to aggression. Thus neurochemicals (genetic factors) constitute the core of the aggressive personality, which the environmental factors liberally worsen. We cannot undermine the role of media in inculcating aggression among children and adults alike. More so in children, aggressive cartoons, movies, terror news, or simply a verbal argument or physical tiff between the parents can also trigger aggressive outbursts.

Types of aggression

Physical assaults, attacks, fights; all are aggressive exchanges we commonly see in people. But aggression is not merely somatic beating. Direct verbal attacks like insulting, cursing and swearing; as well as sarcasm and snide remarks amount to verbal aggression. In several cultures, looking at people in a specific way may amount to aggression too! One needs to realize etiquette and socially acceptable ways of expressing discontentment and anger. After all, that’s what differentiates humans from beasts.

Pros and cons

Although seemingly required at times, anger and aggression have derogatory effects on performance. An agitated mind does not work rationally and makes illogical and impulsive decisions. All these lead to regret and remorse. A calm and relaxed mind that accepts human as well as natural limitations does not get furious or violent easily. Hence it is very important to maintain a relaxed state of mind at all times. This may sound impossible for someone who is aggressive; but practice can give promising results.

Need to calm down

MINDFRAMES with its team of qualified experts provides structured behavior modification techniques, tips for self-change and improvement, relaxation, visual imagery, as well as biofeedback mechanisms which help individuals cope with their aggressive impulses. Cognitive tasks and homework allow for introspection into aggressive outbursts and their antecedent events so that triggers can be identified and dealt with well in time. The important step is insight into one’s aggressive behavior, and cognizance of the ill effects it can have on performance. Self-change can only be initiated by the self. After all it is the stepping-stone for self-growth.

Signs of impulsivity

Impulsivity is more common that we realize. It is usually expressed in:

  • Complete lack of forethought
  • Acting without any deliberation
  • Oblivion to any consequences
  • Premature thought processes
  • Always very risky behavior
  • Inappropriateness to situations
  • Inability to perceive danger
  • Boldness along with rashness
  • Shortsighted goal focus
  • Repenting the consequences
  • However inability to change

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cause for aggression in humans?
There have been many studies indicating that certain chemical relationships between certain neurotransmitters (eg.serotonin) and hormones (eg.testosterone) determine aggressive behavior. At the same time some situational conditions and societal factors also contribute to aggression.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are some people polite and gentle while others harsh and aggressive?
Aggression is dependent on the genetic makeup as well as the social-cultural environment and upbringing. A child raised in an argumentative and aggressive environment will grow up to be more aggressive than one raised in a calm milieu. Children learn by observing aggressive behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can medicines help in controlling aggression?
Many medications are available in the market which work in specific lobes of the brain and correct the neurotransmitter deficit; which calm the aggressive individual.