What is Aggression?

Aggression is any behaviour that is intended to cause harm to another person, who has an interest in avoiding such harm.

This behaviour can be physical (punching, biting, spitting), verbal (insulting, harassing or intimidation) or emotional (gaslighting, spreading rumours).

What is Hostile Aggression?

Hostile aggression is harmful behaviour motivated by frustration. This is emotional aggression. It is typically sudden and impulsive, with the simple goal of causing harm to another person (often the source of their frustration).

Hostile aggression occurs when our limbic fight, flight or freeze reaction takes over and our complex thinking abilities diminish. This is a primitive threat response designed to protect us from the dangers posed by our environment. That is why we sometimes do things that we normally wouldn’t, or feel like we “lost control” for a few seconds.

Examples of Hostile Aggression

  • Road rage. When one driver cuts off another, almost causing a collision. The second driver becomes enraged and attempts to force the other driver off the road in response.
  • The fights and arguments that we see in the news on Black Friday every year. People are competing for limited resources, and will actually attack another shopper to get what they want from them.
  • An argument between a husband and wife. The husband says something that upsets his wife so much that she slaps him in the face and storms off.
  • Almost every bar fight you’ve ever witnessed or heard about.

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