Aggressive Behavior: When to Worry
May 07, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Aggressive Behavior: When to Worry

Aggression is a term used in daily life to describe a behavior of a person that projects harm from them to another person or properties. Aggression is not always physical; it may be in the form of emotional or psychological abuse to others.

Aggression is most likely to be intentional on the part of the aggressor. This is why it is considered worse than the harm that was not intentional or accidental. There is a similarity between violence and aggression; as aggression is considered to be physical or emotional harm like bullying, hitting, breaking things, violence occurs on an extreme level like murder, rape, robbery, etc.

Some psychologists believe that aggression may be innate or instinctive or learned. It violates social and personal boundaries. Rare aggressive outbursts, especially on the right occasions, are considered normal, however, frequent incidents of aggressive behaviors are something to worry about.

Types of Aggression

Aggression can be of different types, depending on the intent or level of abuse.

Emotional aggression

Emotional aggression (also called impulsive aggression) is a type in which aggression is intended to hurt the other person’s feelings. This type of aggression takes a little or no forethought before it occurs. It is an impulsive act that is often a projection of one’s extreme negative emotions, like anger, frustration, irritation, etc. onto the other person. It is never well-intended and emotionally hurts others.

Instrumental aggression

The other type of aggression is instrumental aggression (also known as cognitive aggression). It is the kind of aggression that is well-calculated and planned to gain something like attention, things, money, etc. from the other person by hurting them. It is more of a cognitive kind than affective. Bullies, terrorists, assassins, etc. are all instrumental aggressors.

Physical and non-physical aggression

The most common and well-known kind of aggression is physical and non-physical aggression. Physical aggression involves harming others physically like hitting, punching, stabbing them. And non-physical aggression includes 1) verbal aggression, like name-calling, screaming, swearing at others, etc. and 2) relational aggression, i.e. gossiping about the targeted person, giving them the silent treatment, holding grudges against them, etc. in the form of passive aggression (not done directly, but is intended to hurt them). Other non-physical aggression examples include cyberbullying, sexual, racial, and homophobic “jokes” that are intended to hurt them.

Causes of Aggression

There can be multiple causes of aggressive behavior, including the life experiences that shape one’s personality. These causes include physical or mental health, like depression, anxiety, childhood trauma, etc. family environment, relationship with the family, relatives, friends, partners, etc. work and school environment, socio-economic factors, and personal traits and characteristics, like short-temperateness.

Aggression Prevention Strategies

These strategies can dramatically decrease aggressive behavior in children including decreasing the exposure of children to aggression and violence at home, in the community and especially through media. For example, domestic violence is a common example that leads children to violence.

Other than that, child abuse should be prevented at home; physical, verbal or psychological abuse lead the children to adopt aggressive behavior. Providing sex education and joining intervention programs for troubled teenagers is a very useful strategy that can help them deal with their negative emotions without being aggressive or hostile.

Management of Aggressive Behavior

Mindfulness techniques, like catharsis, yoga, imagery, etc. are useful in the management of aggression. Other than this, relaxation techniques like listening to music, going out for a walk, writing down emotions in a journal, going to a gym, etc. can help to control aggressive behavior. Book your appointment with Shifa4U for medical help related to any aggression issues.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.