Primary Caregiver Emotions: Anger

Why is this happening to me? 

  • I am angry at the diagnosis, the medical team, at the people in my community and their platitudes, the advice or lack of support from my parents or family members (brother, sister in law, the lady in the checkout line at Target, insert here)  
  • This is not fair!  No one gets it!  
  • Anger is the most passionate of the PCEs.  
  • Anger has pros and cons for the desperate caregiver.  
  • Anger is the most passionate of the stages and is tied to questions of “why” as well as the injustice of the situation.   
  • The most common triggers to anger is interference with a goal. 
  • Anger is a natural response:  It is expected that an unexpected diagnosis would dash hopes and dreams for the relationship and a sudden unwelcome change to relationship roles.  
  • Anger can be an emotion with directly identifiable ties to something that is important to the caregiver or it can be an annoyance that sets off an emotional undercurrent.  
  • While anger can be triggered by something that we care deeply about, it is often set off by something that just gets “up in our grill.”  
  • Anger can be set off by such circumstances as unwarranted criticism, lack of consideration from others, or an unhealthy pattern in a relationship/accumulation of annoyances.  
  • Unchecked anger can cause irreparable harm to relationships and cause physical harm to the angry person or those who are their targets.  Forgiveness is the most effective means for overcoming anger.
  • For the exhausted caregiver, anger can help them to feel energized, provide them with a sense of autonomy at times when there is a presumed need to control a situation.  In an angry outburst, the caregiver may find themselves in an aroused state of self-defense.    
  • Caregiver anger can be directed at the person in their care but often it is directed at social workers, friends and family, well intentioned things that people say and do (platitudes and unsolicited advice) and undirected anger at frustrating aspects of the day.  
  • Unchecked anger can also be directed at retail clerks, frustrated drivers, dead car batteries, family pets, neighbors, and customer service agents.  
  • Anger is a secondary level of stress defense mechanism that provides the limbic system a buffer from the direct hit of the stress.  
  • The most damaging aspects of anger for the already isolated caregiver is its regulation of social interactions and the negative impact of anger on the physical and mental health of the caregiver and those who become the targets of their anger.  
  • As far as benefits to the caregiver, anger creates heightened energy and focus.  
  • People who act out in anger have a high level of success accomplishing what they set out to do.  
  • An extreme downside to this heightened level of awareness is that acting out in anger can cause people to emotionally or physically harm themselves or others.

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