Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Anger

ANGER may be defined to be a violent passion of the mind, arising from a sense of personal injury, and attended with an ardent desire of revenge.

It is either deliberative or instinctive; in the latter case, it is rash and precipitate, and blindly operates, regardless of the present, or of future consequences; in the former, it anticipates the moment of revenge, and meditates retaliation. It is not always, however, a selfish passion, since it is as frequently excited by injuries offered to others as to ourselves, and is often the distinguishing characteristic of a susceptible and vigorous mind.

Indulged to excess, and excited by every petty provocation, it becomes habitual, and is sometimes productive of the most fatal effects. Independent of its moral consequences, excessive anger produces spasmodic contractions, and stagnations in the liver and its vessels; and, by these means, renders them schirrous, often generating stones and gravel in the gall-bladder and biliary ducts. When accompanied with affliction, it usually occasions paleness of the countenance, palpitation of the heart, faltering of the tongue, trembling of the limbs, and jaundice. When the hope of revenge is the predominant feature in anger, it causes violent commotions of the whole system, strong pulsation of the arteries, and a quick circulation; the vital spirits flow rapidly and irregularly through the whole body; the muscles are contracted, and some of them appear almost palsied; the cheeks are flushed, the eyes sparkle with additional lustre, and the whole frame feels unusual animation, and a desire of motion.

Anger is particularly injurious to infants, who, from the sensibility of their frames, are extremely susceptible of this passion, and are sometimes so severely affected as to the suddenly in convulsions, or to retain, ever after, an imbecility of mind and body, arising from its powerful impression. Persons of an irritable habit are more frequently liable to its attacks; hence it generally appears in individuals who are troubled with nervous, hysterical, and hypochondriacal complaints. Those of a hot and dry temperament, of strong black hair, and great muscular strength, are likewise much exposed to its influence.

We ought, as rational agents, to beware of encouraging such destructive emotions; for it is certain, that men and women, possessing an irascible temper, generally die of pulmonary consumptions; and young persons, especially females, should be informed, that independently of its moral turpitude, it deforms the face, steals the rose from the cheek of beauty, and not only tends to extinguish the most tender affections, but sometimes even produces aversion.

On its first approach, persons subject to the invasion of this turbulent passion, should, as much as possible, divert their attention from the cause, by an application to some other object. A propensity to anger is increased by want of sleep, stimulant food, spices, wines, and such things as have a tendency to inflame the blood. Hence they ought to make use of diluent, acidulated, and gently aperient drink; and in every respect observe the most rigid temperance: they should allow themselves more sleep, employ the luke-warm bath, and indulge in the eating of fruit, butter-milk, whey, vegetable aliment, &c.—See Grief, Passions, Revenge, Terror.