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What is Aggression?

Aggression is defined as hostility or violence through behavior and often refers to a forcefulness in one’s own needs or wants. Aggression may also be viewed as confrontation or the act of seeking out conflict.

On a rudimentary level, aggression is an important social instinct for humans and is the precursor to physical violence. Aggression in social scenarios helps to establish social norms and principles by addressing disregard for those norms. However, when aggression intensifies it may result in violence and physical or psychological harm, at which point it’s a destructive behavior.

Aggression appears differently in women than it does in men. Aggression tends to be less direct in women than in women and manifest in the form of gossiping, spreading or starting rumors, etc. generally speaking, female aggression results in less physical and psychological harm than male aggression does.

Signs of Aggression

There are many different forms of aggression and the signs of aggression vary from person to person. However, there are two main types of aggression: physical and verbal.

Signs of physical aggression include:

  • Punching, hitting, or slapping
  • Pinching
  • Pushing
  • Breaking objects or property (i.e. punching a hole in a wall)
  • Pulling hair
  • Spitting on people or property

Signs of verbal aggression:

  • Yelling
  • Spreading rumors
  • Calling someone by an offensive name
  • Ignoring an individual or leaving them out in social situations

Aggression can also be recognized as physical and psychological symptoms in the individual. Examples of these physical symptoms include:

  • Quickened heart rate
  • Heightened body temperature
  • Flushed complexion
  • Tensing the jaw, hands, and muscles throughout the body
  • Headache

Examples of psychological symptoms include:

  • Inhibited ability to focus or concentrate
  • Inhibited judgement
  • General feelings of anger, agitation, and/or irritation
  • Mood swings

How is Aggression Treated?

To treat aggression, you and your doctor must first pinpoint its cause. The cause of aggression may vary depending on the individual. In some cases, aggression is a symptom of a different condition such as bipolar disorder or adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). In these circumstances, more extensive treatment involving medication and therapy may be required to ease aggressive behaviors.

Therapy is a common and often effective treatment for aggression. Therapy can give the affected individual an outlet to reflect on their triggers for aggression and foster a greater understanding of the feelings that lead to aggression. A therapist can help introduce strategies to avoid or cope with these triggers.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy method frequently used in the treatment of aggression. It focuses on identifying destructive aggressive behaviors and replacing them with healthy behaviors. Over time, the healthy behaviors may become habits and aggressive behaviors may lessen in frequency or stop completely.