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Anger

What goes on in our brain when we ‘see red’? Bridget Kendall talks to psychologist Raymond Chip Tafrate, historian Tiffany Watt Smith and neurobiologist R. Douglas Fields.

Feeling angry has always been an integral part of our nature, an instant response to being insulted, restrained or threatened. But is modern life making us angrier? And what goes on in our brain when we ‘snap’? Bridget Kendall talks to psychologist Raymond Chip Tafrate, historian of emotions Tiffany Watt Smith and neurobiologist R. Douglas Fields.

Photo: Two angry people yell at each other (Credit: Corbis)

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41 minutes

Raymond Chip Tafrate

Criminologist Raymond Chip Tafrate is Professor of Psychology at Connecticut State University and author of Understanding Anger Disorders. He has devised successful new strategies for anger management, tailored to the needs of different groups of patients. He says that someone compelled to have anger management therapy by the criminal justice system is unlikely to respond well to a treatment which works for people who come to the sessions voluntarily. 

Tiffany Watt Smith

Tiffany Watt Smith is a cultural historian specialising in the history of emotions at Queen Mary University of London and author of The Book of Human Emotions. She argues that what seems like a modern debate about whether it’s better to suppress or vent one’s anger, has actually much older roots. For instance, the thirteenth-century physician and alchemist Roger Bacon suggested that getting frequently infuriated could slow the aging process.

R. Douglas Fields

Leading American neurobiologist R. Douglas Fields explains the science behind the activation of the ‘threat response’ centre in our brain which often leads to violent outbursts of anger. He describes the nine neural circuits involved in making us feel angry and he also shows how we can protect both ourselves and other people from rage. His latest book is Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain.

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