How is PTSD anger different to normal anger?


I find anger a really difficult topic and I don't think it's "normal" anger... it's PTSD anger.

Personally, I don't have the issue of uncontrollable anger/ rage attacks.

Part of my PTSD/ trauma meant I had to learn to control anger really, really well. So I can, but it basically just sits there like this big bubbling cauldron of anger that's constantly on the boil, in the background.

And it can seep out in sacrasm, snide remarks, judgementalness, impatience, resentment, disengagement and all sorts.

At the beginning of my PTSD journey, anger was a really helpful emotion. It was good to feel angry about the abuse and trauma - it helped me get out of that situation, helped me seek trauma therapy, helped me seek a better life for myself. My anger about the trauma felt validating, gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel strong.

Having anger blood chemistry coursing through your veins feels a lot better and a lot more empowered than having fear/ panic or depression chemistry running you.

But further down along the road of recovery, I can't seem to turn it off anymore. It's always there. Constantly on the boil.

Because I can control it so well, it's never been an issue in therapy. There was always so much other, much more urgent stuff to talk about.

But it's really starting to mess with my life... or it has been for a long time, but I'm now starting to see it for what it is.

I struggle to give up the sense of anger generally - because as I've said it feels strong, where so many other difficult emotions feel vulnerable and upsetting.

I also struggle to give up the anger about the trauma and abuse - it feels like the injustice of that can only appropriately be met with anger and if I let go of it, then what?

I think over the years, it's become a part of my personality.

It's also a trauma repsonse that goes back to as early as I can think... When I remember the earliest abuse I can consciously recall at about age 3 - 4, I also remember being pissed, seethingly angry, resentful about it and biting my tongue about it (not verbalising it, not yelling or having tantrums) but feeling a deep sense of hate and despising the abusers.

Partly, that was a helpful coping mechanism, because it meant I didn't internalise that part of the abuse much. I always knew it was wrong and bad and I hated it and wanted it to stop and did whatever I could to get away from it.

But I guess it became a way of life. In the early trauma recovery years, it a) was a helpful drive to improve my situation, and b) was clouded over by sooooo much other, much more dramatic stuff going on.

But now it kind of runs my life and I get angry about anything and everything. I even wake up angry in the mornings.

And it's such an auto-pilot thing for me, I don't even know how to get rid of it - I don't even know "who I am" without the anger, to be honest.

Oh and to traumabrain, anger = self-protection, which is "obviously" a good thing and why on earth would you want less of that?
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difficult, indeed. . .

the definition i am currently working is that my ptsd anger lacks a specific, stable target. i random target like a beaten crazy bitch wolf under the influence of ptsd induced anger. it remains a challenge to distinguish a metaphorical mountain lion from a metaphorical cheetah, but? ? ? works in progress. . .

in my strictly personal psychosis, metaphorical cheetahs move their spots far more easily than the literal cheetahs.
During the course of my childhood I was indoctrinated into an armed group. I mention this because the methods that my traffickers used to purposefully destroy my normal social and analytical framework were designed to induce extreme aggression and violence in response to conflict and anger. The result of this is that when I get mad, I become enraged and destructive. I become homicidal, suicidal, with urges to harm everything around me (including myself, objects, people).

I've heard this sometimes referred to as "killing rage" and I think it is similar to that. It's not like a normal anger - at least not that I've witnessed in others. I've been in anger management, behavioral modification and deprogramming treatments since I was 10 years old, and I find myself drawing on those skills nearly every day of my life. I am very isolated as a result. I limit my exposure to stimulus that can result in these responses, and resultingly to other people. I spend a lot of my life in a single room (my own).

As an adult I know that I can use compromise, negotiation and even things like theft or manipulation to get my needs met. I don't need to resort to violence, and I try as far as possible to mitigate this anger (which is more akin to a large dump of adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, etc into my body all at once). I've broken people's bones. Threatened them. Frightened them. Been quite abusive. I don't want to be like this and have remorse for this behavior.

The good news is that it is possible to overcome this, to a degree. I've been in FORNET and through the VA's AIMS programs, DBT and ERP, psilocybin and dextromethorphan therapies. All are exceedingly useful in choosing the path of pacifism, peace and non-aggression. This has allowed me to forgive the people who have wronged me and to in essence "accept it" and "let it go."

The alternative is to spend my life in bitter, seething resentment and frankly? My abusers do not care about me. They do not care about my rage. They would likely laugh at it and view it as pathetic. Why should they dictate my life now, and how I see myself? Why should they continue to have control over me, even in their absence? They did not have the right then, and I can choose to deny them that right now.

Forgiving them does not mean that I condone what they did to me. It does not mean accepting that their behavior was moral or decent. It means that I understand they are a product of their physiological composition and their environment, and that they behaved this way because they lacked the utility to want to do otherwise. They are a destructive force, with impulses no different to a virus or bacteria. The universe is full of destructive forces and on the cosmic level it really doesn't mean anything.

Which means that I don't need to take responsibility for it, nor take it into myself.
Normal anger - gets resolved and cools off. It's like your plug in kettle - it comes to a boil and then shuts off.

PTSD anger is like PTSD and does not resolve itself without intervention/ help/therapy.
For me? It’s not different.

My emotions are all the same emotions as other people experience. The difference is my ability to regulate them, rather than any inherent difference in the emotion themselves.
if I let go of it, then what?

i think this links in with your acceptance thread.

you have every reason to be angry at the injustice done to you. But, carrying anger is causing you to stay stuck. Letting the anger go, accepting you experienced injustice and that it has shaped who you are, and making peace with it, is really healing.

letting go of anger doesn’t mean you collude with the abuse. Or you’re silent about it. Or that it becomes just. It just means you’ve processed.