Aggressive behavior – when fear is behind it
For a long time, psychologists defined aggressive behavior as one of the primary drives of man. Today, it has been scientifically proven that a person’s willingness to use violence is not innate, but is triggered and controlled by external influences. Above all, feelings of fear and menace can cause aggression in people, which can be directed against their own self as well as against fellow human beings.
Aggression and anxiety – consequences of mental and physical pain
Not only Sigmund Freud, but also many of his colleagues saw in aggressive behavior an innate and completely natural instinct of man, which decisively shapes his behavior and his character. Research has refuted this theory, which has rarely been denied in psychology circles for many decades, in recent years. Studies have shown that aggression is the result of external influences resulting from certain experiences in life. The brain is home to the so-called motivational center, which used to be often called the “urgency” term. However, the motivational center functions solely in response to certain messenger substances that are released in different life situations and significantly influence the state of mind and behavior of a person.
Positive experiences, whether in childhood, in the social and family environment or in professional life, in healthy people cause the release of happiness hormones that promote peaceful behavior. If it comes to negative experiences, no happiness messengers are released in the brain, but it comes to an activation of the neural pain system. In this context, anxiety and aggression initiate the same mechanisms in the brain and are therefore closely related.
Trigger for anxiety and aggressive behavior
Scientists have found that both feelings of fear and aggression must be triggered by external influences and not arise without reason in a person. Basically, mentally healthy people always feel fear when they are attacked by other people or in a dangerous situation. The activity of the neural pain system, which is equally responsible for anxiety and aggression, is most recently stimulated not only by acute situations of violence and danger, but also by social problems.
Whether hurt by others, abuse, social rejection and marginalization or poverty, such experiences cause people to experience psychological pain that manifests itself in anxiety and aggression. This explains why many people who experience a problematic childhood often show strong aggressive behavior as adults, which is latent. Every child who grows up in a disturbed family or struggles with hostility at school experiences a permanent exclusion, which causes anxiety in the neuronal pain system and can subsequently trigger aggressive behavior.
Feelings of anxiety arising from an acute situation can manifest themselves in a variety of behaviors ranging from the cause, degree, and severity of physical reactions, social withdrawal, inability to action, to mental disorders. Fears can sometimes be so strong and overwhelming that the person concerned can not help but address people who happen to be present.
The painful or debilitating sense of anxiety temporarily deprives the person of his normal social abilities and reacts with verbal hostility, insults, beatings, kicks, or other unpredictable actions that he would never show in other situations. For example, physicians or caregivers are often confronted with this problem when they need to treat patients in acute anxiety situations such as before surgery. In such cases, the aggressive behavior triggered by fear is nothing more than an expression of helplessness. In any case, aggressive behavior is always to be seen as a consequence of external influences in the form of negative experiences that either burden a person for a long time or manifest themselves in acute situations.