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Random Bursts of Intense Anger

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I am worried that there may be something wrong with me or with my anger management skills. For the past few years, I have experienced very short but very intense bursts of anger which I suppress and don’t act on. They are mostly triggered by my abusive brother who lives in the same house as me because I am not married yet and unable to move out due to national policy. Whenever I see him doing something inappropriate (he masturbates with his room door open) or when he yells at me or when he makes a mess of the house, I get so angry that my body vibrates, I clench my fist so tightly that I cut my palms with my fingernails, and I grit my teeth. These bursts last for about 2-3 seconds then it will pass, and I will feel myself warming up a little and my heartbeat getting stronger. I get very violent thoughts during these episodes but I never act on them at all. I am aware that my brother is very abusive, to the point that even my parents cannot do anything about him because they are afraid of retaliation. So my strategy has always been to just avoid him as much as I can until I can finally get a place of my own and move out.

In the last few months, these episodes were getting more and more common, happening every time I just happen to accidentally think about him or anything related to him at all. It happens up to more than 10 times a day. I’m getting a chronic headache because of how much I’m gritting my teeth and I’m worried there may be something wrong with me. I am honestly scared by the intensity of these bursts of anger because I am not a violent person. I rarely raise my voice and do not have any conflicts in my life other than this. (From Singapore)

Random Bursts of Intense Anger

Answered by on -


I am sorry you are having to endure the belligerence of your brother and negligence from your mother. Your choice of steering clear from him is a good one. I would continue this strategy and begin adding two self-help interventions to your daily routine as you continue to make plans to move out as soon as possible.

The first is a method known as progressive relaxation. I would learn and use this method daily. The second is to begin meditating. Here is a brief video that explains how to begin. These two methods should help with your anger as you prepare to leave as soon as you can.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Random Bursts of Intense Anger

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Random Bursts of Intense Anger. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Sep 2018 (Originally: 18 Sep 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Sep 2018
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