Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Neurotic Anger, Subcategory of Anger

  • Yori GidronEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1462-2



This term refers to a type of anger which mainly reflects the affective component of anger. Neurotic anger (or neurotic hostility) is contrasted with antagonistic anger (or antagonistic hostility), which refers mainly to the behavioral component of anger (Dembroski and Costa 1987). Neurotic anger includes feelings of anger and is associated with the personality dimension of neuroticism-emotional stability, with neuroticism being the tendency to attend to, experience, and report negative affect. In contrast, antagonistic anger refers mainly to the agreeable-antagonism dimension of personality and includes disagreeable behavior, argumentativeness, rudeness, being evasive, and lack of cooperation. This distinction is of great importance in behavior medicine because studies have shown that mainly antagonistic, but not neurotic, anger/hostility is the element of anger/hostility predictive of cardiovascular reactivity to stress and of coronary artery disease (Felsten 1996). Furthermore, some studies even suggest that neuroticism (which includes neurotic anger) may be a factor unrelated to survival (Costa and McCrae 1987). The latter authors suggested that neuroticism (which includes neurotic anger) is related mainly to self-reported but not to objective indices of health, primarily because self-reported indices are biased by perceptions and reporting of physical and emotional symptoms, strongly related to neuroticism. These perceptions are thought to involve less physiological overactivity, while antagonistic anger/hostility is thought to involve greater physiological reactivity, explaining its prediction of cardiac disease (Felsten 1996). In a study done on 103 healthy women, impulsive anger-out (similar to antagonistic anger), but not neurotic anger, was found to correlate with an unhealthy lipid profile (Siegman et al. 2002). It has been suggested that the use of objective measures of disease could partly solve this issue as well as the use of measures of antagonistic anger/hostility. On the other hand, clinically, while individuals with neurotic anger may not always be more ill on objective measures, they suffer from excessive distress, for which they require psychological assistance.


References and Further Readings

  1. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1987). Neuroticism, somatic complaints, and disease: Is the bark worse than the bite? Journal of Personality, 55, 299–316.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Dembroski, T. M., & Costa, P. T., Jr. (1987). Coronary prone behavior: Components of the type A pattern and hostility. Journal of Personality, 55, 211–235.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Felsten, G. (1996). Five-factor analysis of Buss-Durkee hostility inventory neurotic hostility and expressive hostility factors: Implications for health psychology. Journal of Personality Assessment, 67, 179–194.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Siegman, A. W., Malkin, A. R., Boyle, S., Vaitkus, M., Barko, W., & Franco, E. (2002). Anger, and plasma lipid, lipoprotein, and glucose levels in healthy women: The mediating role of physical fitness. Journal of Behavior Medicine, 25, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyFree University of Brussels (VUB)JetteBelgium