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Cardiovascular consequences of expressing, experiencing, and repressing anger

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Abstract

Psychoanalytic theory's pathogenic view of repression gave rise to the widely held belief that the expression of anger is beneficial to mental and physical health. The present paper reviews a number of experimental and correlational studies which demonstrate that the full expression of anger, with its vocal manifestations, is associated with significant cardiovascular hyperreactivity. Furthermore, epidemiological studies indicate that such expressions of anger are also related to coronary heart disease (CHD) and to some physiological and hormonal changes that have been implicated in the pathophysiology of CHD. On the other hand, neither the mere experience of anger nor its repression has any of the above negative cardiovascular consequences, although the repression of anger seems to have other untoward health consequences.

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The preparation of this article and some of the research reported therein were supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL-036027).

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Siegman, A.W. Cardiovascular consequences of expressing, experiencing, and repressing anger. J Behav Med 16, 539–569 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00844719

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Key words

  • anger experience
  • anger expression
  • anger repression
  • cardiovascular reactivity
  • coronary heart disease