Are Anger Issues Genetic? Understanding The Nature vs Nurture Of Anger
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Struggling with expressing your feelings? Do you lash out in anger often, even though there’s not a real reason behind your anger issues?
Did you know that there is a reason behind this and it’s not you but your genes!?
Indeed! Anger issues can run in your family, however, there is also a high chance that children may not only inherit anger issues from their parents but can also adopt anger issues.
Childhood aggression can be a result of genetics but recent studies suggest that whether or not the aggression increases as kids grow up depends on socio-cultural and environmental factors. Kids with aggression and anger issues may be struggling with cognitive and developmental growth.
Let’s take a closer look at how our genes and environmental factors contribute to our anger issues.
Is Anger Genetic?
Genetics is never out of the equation when it comes to mental health struggles, in fact, many mental health disorders can be traced back to one’s genetics. Many mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, major depression disorder, etc.
And if you look closely, one of the common symptoms of these disorders is irritability, anger, and aggression. Notice your feelings. Are you uncharacteristically angry or aggressive these days? If yes, then it’s time you took a look at your family’s medical history.
There’s a very high possibility that you’ve got your anger issues from your parents.
Is Anger A Learned Behavior?
When it comes to anger issues, there’s also a chance that you adopted your aggression from your socio-cultural background and environment. When a child grows up in aggressive family dynamics, they observe the behaviors of their parents and then repeat them when they grow up – because they don’t know better.
If your parents model aggressive behavior or anger then you’re more likely to repeat the same in your adulthood. Let’s take one study for an example:
The Bobo Doll Experiment – In this experiment, different groups of children were exposed to different models; one, an aggressive model, and the other, a non-aggressive model. The researchers of the study found that children belonging to the aggressive model were more likely to engage in aggressive actions than the ones not exposed to aggression.
There’s also a reward factor that can contribute to anger as learned behavior. For example, if getting angry ensured you got what you wanted in your childhood then as an adult, you’re more likely to lash out in anger, because that’s what you learned you need to get what you want.
How Nature And Nurture Contribute To Anger Issues
Do nature and nurture contribute to anger issues? Yes!
Anger causes our heartbeats to increase, our blood pressure to rise, and our breathing to become rapid. In recent research, it was found that the link between anger and our genes is complex.
In one study it was found that people with genetic aggression have low cognitive functioning, especially in areas that help control their emotions. The monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene has been found to have an association with anger. The imbalance of this gene can impact the balance of dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters that help with emotional regulation.
In another study, it was suggested that men with a low functioning of the gene are likely to be aggressive, but only when aggravated.
In some research, it was suggested that humans are born with a varied range of abilities and while our genetics may ascertain our inherent intelligence, in some studies it was found that nurture also plays a huge role in influencing our intelligence quotient.
Let’s say, a child born with a certain degree of intelligence may function higher than their potential when given cognitive stimulation but at the same time, a child born with the same intelligent potential may not function as well or to the best of their abilities because they received minimal stimulation and poor encouragement.
So while anger can be inherited, it can also be a result of how a child is nurtured and the nature of the environment they have grown up in.
Other causes – environmental or socio-cultural causes of anger can be:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Addiction or alcohol abuse
- Attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Intermittent explosive disorder
- Grief and loss
How To Control Anger – No Matter The Origin
If you believe that your anger is out of control and is affecting your daily life and relationships, then you can seek help from a professional. If anger issues are genetic, then you can try these following steps:
- Model a non-aggressive behavior in front of your child
- Educate your child about anger issues
- Discuss the ways your family can cope with aggression and anger
- Encourage relaxation techniques
- Promote behavioral therapy, family therapy
Now that you’ve taken the first step, namely recognizing the anger issues, it’s time to get the right help. The change will not be easy, especially if your anger issues are genetic but with practicing the right anger management strategies, it can be possible.
Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Ask your loved ones to let you know when your reaction is inappropriate and how you can express your feelings much more effectively.
Anger is a strong but normal emotion. Anger issues can be genetic but they can also be a result of one’s social and environmental factors. Nature, the one you inherit and nurture, how you’re raised can equally affect your aggressive behavior.
I hope this article helped you answer the question, “Are anger issues genetic?”. If it did, let me know in the comments below. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more.