Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 83–92 | Cite as

Problem Anger in Psychotherapy: An Emotion-Focused Perspective on Hate, Rage, and Rejecting Anger

  • Antonio Pascual-Leone
  • Phoenix Gilles
  • Terence Singh
  • Cristina A. Andreescu
Original Paper


This paper explores applies emotion-focused theory, for the first time, to the emotions of hate, rage, and destructive anger. The general case formulation proposed in this paper is that these emotions are always an elaboration of secondary anger. The body of the paper describes three clinical case formulations. First, problem anger is described in terms of an individual’s self-criticism. Second, we present a form of secondary anger, in which hostility and rage are reactive feelings to avoid more vulnerable (primary) experiences. An unfortunate example of this is has been described as a common underlying process in domestic violence. A alternate manifestation of secondary anger results from the deterioration of what may have initially been adaptive anger; thus, excessive arousal and the loss of meaning or focus that one’s anger embodied also leads to rage or destructive anger. Finally, the experience and expression of hate is described as a primary maladaptive and/or instrumental anger. This appears in-session particularly among those with certain personality disorders. The paper highlights implications for research and practice.


Anger Rage Hate Case formulation Emotion-focused therapy Personality disorder 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Pascual-Leone
    • 1
  • Phoenix Gilles
    • 1
  • Terence Singh
    • 1
  • Cristina A. Andreescu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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