Dealing with aggression can be difficult and stressful. "In social psychology, the term aggression is generally defined as any behavior that is intended to harm another person who does not want to be harmed," authors Brad J. Bushman and L. Rowell Huesmann explain in "Handbook of Social Psychology." Aggressive behavior can be detrimental to the person who has these tendencies and to others who come into contact with him. If you or a loved one is struggling with aggression, it is important to understand the issue and to make an effort to control it.
Though it can be triggered by almost any stimulus, underlying issues typically contribute to aggressive behavior. Abusing certain substances, such as alcohol and steroids, tends to increase rates of aggression, according to Peter N.S. Hoaken and Sherry H. Stewart in an article published in the journal "Addictive Behaviors." It can also stem from genetic predisposition, other biological origins, and mental health concerns. The latter may include issues such as as post-traumatic stress disorder, a personality disorders or schizophrenia, Dr. Marie E. Rueve and Dr. Randon S. Welton explain in their article titled “Violence and Mental Illness” in the journal "Psychiatry."
Indirect aggression might consist of lying about another person or otherwise disrupting his life while you are not actually around him. Violence, on the other hand, is a direct form of aggression that is meant to result in physical harm to the other person and, in some cases, may end in death, says Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology. Aggression can also be verbal or relational -- aimed at the destruction of social relationships.
Frequent aggression can result in jail time, legal fees, issues with relations and disruption to your physical and emotional well-being. Physical aggression in an intimate relationship, for example, can increase the risk of separation or divorce, says Dr. Joann Wu Shortt and colleagues in an article published in "Journal of Family Psychology." If you have children in your home, they can also be negatively affected by both verbal and physical aggression.
What You Can Do
If identifiable factors are causing aggression, such as excess stress, a mental health issue or substance abuse, you should address those first. This could involve participation in therapeutic intervention, a treatment program or simply the reduction of stressors at home, work or in other areas. It may also be helpful to learn nonaggressive ways to interact with others, says Bushman.
- Addictive Behaviors: Drugs of Abuse and Elicitation of Human Aggressive Behavior
- Psychiatry: Violence and Mental Illness
- Sage Handbook of Social Psychology: Human Aggression: A Social-Cognitive View
- Handbook of Social Psychology: Aggression
- Journal of Family Psychology: Relationship Separation for Young At-Risk Couples
- Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: Child Witness to Domestic Violence