The Consequences of Anger

Community members console one another at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four days after the shooting, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Orli Peter, clinical and neuropsychologist

The public is seizing on the wrong explanation for these violent events. Uncontrolled anger, not mental illness, underlies most types of violence. The non-politicized, academic research is clear: Of all the factors that increase the risk of violence, mental illness barely registers. Even when one narrows the scope from mental illness to serious mental illness, less than 3 percent of all violence is done by the seriously mentally ill, and when substance abuse is removed, there is no association.

People who do not control their anger — whether they are mentally ill or not — are the common features of those who engage in violence, whether it’s mass murders, domestic violence or workplace violence.

And supremacist ideologies — whether white supremacy or Islamic extremism — can inspire the anger to explode onto each of their preferred ideological targets. That’s why these ideologies try to keep people in a perpetual state of anger.