Anger is a significant human emotion, the management of which has far reaching implications for individual and relationship well-being. Yet there is a deficit in the clinical literature regarding the best ways to conceptualize and respond to anger (Saini, 2009). We offer a model of anger which therapists can use to help discriminate healing from harmful manifestations of anger, and which therapists can use in developing interventions for reshaping destructive anger toward constructive anger. We are specifically addressing anger in response to offense, or transactional anger which arises at points of friction in the interface between two people in a relational system. Persons perceiving a self-concept or attachment threat respond to the psychic or relational threat with physiological and emotional arousal. These reactions represent a biological signaling system informing our relationship experience. When offended, our experience of offense interacts with our view of self in relation to other. We propose that a person's view of self in relation to other is how one compares their own self-worth to other; it may be inflated, inadequate, or balanced. Either inflated or inadequate views of self in relation to other produce distinct manifestations of destructive anger. An inflated view of self in relation to other is seen as producing destructive-externalizing anger or anger turned outwards, and an inadequate view of self in relation to other is seen as producing destructive-internalizing anger, or anger turned inward. Both externalizing and internalizing anger are harmful to self (offended), other (perpetrator), and relationship well-being and healing. However, a balanced view of self in relation to other produces constructive anger, which is a healing and helpful indignation that promotes and even catalyzes self, other, and relationship healing and well-being. Use of the model in clinical settings is considered.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



Date Submitted


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anger, offense, healing, constructive anger, destructive anger, relationship