Aggressiveness is a personality quality expressed in actions and actions aimed at harming others or oneself. It is manifested by hostility, causing physical injuries, uttering insults. Aggressive people are irritable, touchy, often experience anger, anger, rage. Diagnosis is performed by clinical methods, using psychodiagnostic personality questionnaires, projective tests. Psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, auto-training, and drug correction are used to reduce aggressiveness.
From a practical point of view, aggressiveness is considered as an increased readiness of a person for aggressive behavior, which is not innate, but is acquired in the process of social interaction. According to qualitative characteristics, constructive and destructive aggressiveness are distinguished. The first is implemented in defensive actions, causing unintended harm, allows you to adapt socially, overcome obstacles, and show leadership. The second is represented by non-constructive aggressive actions based on the intent of causing physical or psychological suffering to another.
By orientation, aggressiveness can be focused on others and on oneself. In accordance with this, heteroaggressive ones are distinguished – insults, beatings, swearing and self-injuring or autoaggressive reactions. An extreme variant of autoaggression is suicide attempts. The most obvious hostile actions are the use of physical force against another person. Other possible options are dislike, malice, negativism, irritation, resentment, suspicion, uttering threats. Aggressiveness directed at oneself is accompanied by a sense of guilt, self-deprecation.
Causes of aggressiveness
The formation of aggressiveness as a personality trait is a complex process in which many factors are involved. Hostile behavior is formed gradually under the influence of family, peers, and the media. Children learn aggression through observation and testing: they see how hatred and hostility can be manifested, evaluate what this leads to, and put the knowledge they have gained into practice. If the experience of aggressive actions is positive, they are fixed in the character. The reasons for the aggressiveness of an adult are socio-psychological factors, mental illnesses, states of alcohol and drug intoxication.
Productive hostility allows you to achieve your goals, defend personal boundaries, and your own beliefs. It is opposed to characterlessness, inherent in most people. The severity and frequency of aggressiveness depend on individual characteristics, such as temperament and character, as well as on socio-cultural conditions, random situational influences. Psychosocial causes are divided into several groups:
- Situational. Aggressiveness is provoked by irritating external conditions and physiological conditions. So, people become more hot-tempered when overheating, being in a stuffy room, prolonged exposure to noise, vibrations. Self-control weakens in a situation of stress, fatigue, pain, sexual arousal.
- Behavioral. This group of factors includes any behavior that is regarded by others as unacceptable, causes a defensive response. For example, the aggressiveness of a child can be associated with aimless pastime, absenteeism, alcohol consumption – actions that cause condemnation of parents, teachers.
- Personal. People with sanguine and choleric temperament, with excitable and antisocial character traits are more likely to be aggressive. Hostile behavior is realized on the basis of emotional instability, irritability, depression. Other personal reasons are an inadequate level of self-esteem, risk-taking, and envy.
- Microsocial. A microsocial environment is a family, school or work collective. People who often observe violence or experience it for themselves, experience humiliation, insults are prone to demonstrating aggression. Therefore, a high level of hostility is determined among teenagers from dysfunctional families, among people working in law enforcement agencies.
- Macrosocial. Social, political and cultural factors can be considered as the causes of aggression. Hostility is formed when negative media events are propagandized, significant people (the head of the country, ministers) demonstrate profanity, and the cult of violence is erected. The provoking factor is often the low socio-economic situation, dependence on financial assistance from the state.
Aggressiveness is a fairly common behavioral and emotional phenomenon found in the practice of psychiatrists. Research and public interest in the problem of aggression in mental patients is associated with a high risk of committing dangerous actions that are directed at loved ones, random people or themselves. Bitterness, anger, impulsivity are most characteristic of the following disorders:
- Depression. In depressed patients, aggression is more often intrapunitive – directed at oneself. It is manifested by self-abasement, a sense of worthlessness, an experience of guilt. The combination of severe depression with impulsivity of character increases the risk of suicidal attempts, self-harm. In relation to other people, aggression is realized through irritability, suspicion, negativism.
- Dementia. Dementia patients lose self-control, do not take into account the rules of behavior accepted in society. They can insult, harm others without realizing the severity of their actions. Aggression is often caused by fear, the experience of being unable to perform habitual actions, loss of independence, and in severe cases – physical discomfort (hunger, fatigue) and inability to ask for help.
- Schizophrenia. The leading causes of hostility of patients are delusional ideas about the evil intent of others, inadequate emotions, disinhibited drives. At the same time, they have no intention to harm another. Behavior is often based on distorted logic, aimed at getting rid of tension and fears. In the paranoid form of schizophrenia, patients can cause harm by fulfilling the requirements of hallucinatory images or voices.
- Psychopathies. In psychiatric practice, personality disorders are a common cause of aggression. With explosive psychopathy, patients are prone to uncontrolled outbursts of anger, impulsive unintentional aggression. The key manifestations of epileptoid personality disorder are emotional viscosity, vindictiveness, anger. Patients remain irritated for a long time, show selfishness, neglecting the interests of others. People with antisocial psychopathy have moral defects, do not feel respect, sympathy and love, therefore they show aggression without guilt.
Taking psychoactive substances reduces the clarity of consciousness, disrupts cognitive functions, distorts perception. In a state of intoxication, behavior and emotions become inadequate: laughter, crying, anger, fear arise for no reason. All these changes are due to the pharmacological effect of the drug taken (alcohol, drug) and the physiological characteristics of the body. After the withdrawal of the substance, the condition gradually normalizes. Aggressiveness can be provoked by the following substances:
- Alcohol. At the initial stage of intoxication, euphoria prevails, a feeling of relaxation, lightness. Then alcohol intoxication increases, behavior becomes defiant, self-control decreases. Irritability, rudeness, and importunity are increasing. A person behaves aggressively, provokes conflicts, scandals, fights. During this period, he becomes the most dangerous for himself and the people who are nearby.
- Cannabis preparations. With a small dose of the drug, there is a feeling of carelessness, intemperance, increased talkativeness. The sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells becomes more acute. An increase in the dose leads to lethargy and lethargy or, conversely, to aggressiveness, unmotivated actions. In the second case, hyperactivity increases, hallucinations, groundless fears, panic appear.
- Hallucinogens. The reception of hallucinogenic substances is accompanied by a change in the perception of the outside world: a person begins to “hear colors”, “see sounds”, loses the feeling of his own body. Hallucinations are more often visual, provoke overexcitation, inadequate strong emotions – fear, happiness, anger. Against the background of loss of self-control and altered emotional state, impulsive behavior occurs, sometimes with elements of aggressiveness.
- Sedatives, sleeping pills. Intoxication is manifested by an increase in inhibition, drowsiness, discoordination of movements. Emotional reactions are labile, affect is disinhibited. The initial feeling of sympathy for the interlocutor easily turns into anger, aggression. Motor activity increases, movements become erratic, uncoordinated. Sexual attraction, appetite increases.
The diagnosis of aggression and its causes is carried out by a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, clinical psychologist. Of particular interest are cases of determining the propensity for aggression when performing examinations, when the patient may have a desire to hide undesirable qualities. In such situations, in addition to standard diagnostic procedures, experimental methods are used, during which actions that provoke hostility are carried out. Within the framework of the basic study, the following procedures are applied:
- Survey. During the conversation, the doctor finds out the causes of aggression, its duration, severity, validity. Patients are not always critical of changes in their behavior, therefore, in order to obtain more objective information, a survey of relatives (accompanying persons) is conducted, characteristics from school and from the workplace are requested.
- Observation. The tendency to aggressive reactions manifests itself during a medical consultation: patients are irritable, quick-tempered, rude. Unpleasant questions are answered with swearing, they easily turn to accusations, quarrels, scandals. A more complete picture of the behavior of patients is provided by observation in a hospital setting. As a rule, they show verbal and physical aggression, become the instigators of quarrels with medical staff and other patients.
- Psychodiagnostic testing. Personality questionnaires allow us to quantify the severity of aggressiveness, determine its position in the character structure, combination with other qualities, for example, impulsivity. The Bass-Darkey test is used (Diagnosis of the state of aggression), the A. Assinger test (assessment of aggressiveness in relationships). To identify hidden aggression, projective techniques are effective: the hand test, the Rosenzweig test.
Aggressiveness should not be considered as an inevitable form of human reaction to conflicts, life difficulties and inconveniences. With timely and proper work on your personal qualities, you can learn to control the manifestations of anger and hostility, preventing the development of their pathological forms. Symptomatic medical and psychological assistance consists in conducting psychotherapeutic sessions, group trainings, and drug correction.
Conversations with a psychotherapist allow patients to understand the causes of anger, irritability and hostility towards others. Methods of psychoanalysis, psychodrama, cognitive psychotherapy are used. The result is an awareness of the problem, an understanding of how aggressiveness manifests itself in everyday life, how it affects the quality of relationships, by what methods correction will be carried out. The second stage of psychotherapy is aimed at mastering the skills of self-control, attention switching, relaxation. Autogenic training, hypnosis, gestalt therapy and art therapy techniques are used.
Social skills trainings are effective. Modeling of situations in which samples of adequate behavior are demonstrated, even if the other side provokes a conflict, is carried out. In the form of role-playing games, methods of interpersonal interaction in various situations are being worked out: domestic, professional, official. After each practical lesson, there is a process of reflection, feedback, in which participants share opinions, experiences, evaluate the result.
The selection of drug treatment is necessary for severe forms of aggressiveness, when the patient’s behavior poses a threat to himself or others. Taking medications allows you to achieve compensation for the general condition, reduce the number of aggressive behavioral acts, and prevent their development in the future. The combined use of high-speed benzodiazepines with neuroleptics is common. The pharmacological effect is explained by the ability of drugs to influence the level and ratio of neurotransmitters. In addition to the above medications, atypical neuroleptics, lithium salts, beta-blockers may be prescribed.