The word aggression is often used judgmentally in everyday life. In contrast, psychological definitions provide a purely descriptive fact. Aggressive behavior is not primarily a disease.

Note: This article focuses on "aggression" as a natural body process in humans, for example, as a defense and defense response in a dangerous situation. However, if you are interested in aggression as a symptom, we recommend this article: Aggression as Symptom & Symptoms of Various Diseases.

What is aggression?

The use of the word aggression is not uniform. Definitions in psychology basically define this term as behavioral damage. The focus is on the outer attitude and not on emotions. Damage and intention are the common features in the psychological understanding of speech. The everyday understanding, on the other hand, means inner hostile feelings and thus puts the emphasis on the emotion. There is no fixed connection between the two meanings.

Aggressive behavior occurs in various forms. The intention is crucial. An enemy action happens physically (beating etc.), verbally (screaming etc.), nonverbal (evil looks etc.) or relational (exclude someone etc.). Aggressive emotions also show up in different variants. The impulse to harm or hurt is the negative impact opposite other persons. An enemy's drive is expressed as an emotional drive (anger, etc.), as satisfaction (glee, etc.), or as an attitude (hatred, etc.). Both the level of behavior and the level of emotion are scientifically measurable.

Function & Task

The function of an attacking response is the fulfillment of individual or collective behaviors. It may be related to threat, reversion, bodily injury or even killing. Mainly the causes are either in the drive of personal self-assertion or in fear, rivalry and frustration.

In doing so, the nature of man establishes expressions that are undetectable in animals: aggression from obedience, from imitation or from arbitrariness. For a long time, the three classical approaches of instinct theory, frustration theory and learning theory provided explanations for human attacking behavior. According to the instinct theory, there is an innate source in the organism that constantly generates aggressive impulses. According to the theory of frustration, aggressive motivations do not result spontaneously but in response to disturbing, unwanted events. According to learning theory, aggressive behavior is determined by learning laws (learning by success, learning by the model). Today, these theories are outdated. Today, science is predominantly transitioning to multicausal explanatory models. They focus on the interplay of multiple causes.

To be distinguished from this are end actions such as beating, bumping, biting, etc., for which aggression is characteristic to a certain extent. But they are not tied to aggressive functions. Hostile behavior is thus multi-purpose behavior. In doing so, the benefits of aggressive multipurpose behavior can be focused on fulfilling one's own wishes or exercising power. Thus, a success sets in, which can solidify in action to a habit.

Another benefit is material enrichment. Well-known is the case of the bank robber who robs a bank. Also in gaining attention and recognition a benefit can be justified. In some cultures, violence is considered to be honorable and arouses admiration, while its omission is punished with contempt.

A benefit of hostile action can also be defense and self-protection by averting attacks or disruptions. The hostile behavior here has the character of a defense.

Diseases & complaints

Mental and emotional tension associated with aggression causes physical discomfort. Muscles and joints cramp and diminish blood flow, which is important for blood and oxygen supply. The result is tension in the joints, back and jaw, causing pain.

Physical symptoms can be found in sleep disorders, skin problems, weight changes, high blood pressure and stomach problems. Coping with a conflict situation through confrontation manifests itself in bad dreams and triggers panic attacks. In these stressful situations, the body reacts with increased fat production of the skin, which can lead to acne.

Exhaustion due to emotional compulsion can also lead to eating disorders. In contrast, impulsive internal processes trigger an increased heart rate. The regulation of blood pressure can be permanently damaged and cause chronic damage. Heart disease and heart attacks are conceivable as possible consequences. Permanent pressure on the heart damages the heart over the long term.

The body is also responsible for the emptying of the stomach. Many people suffer from clashes with too much stomach acid. This can lead to tears in the gastric mucosa and stomach bleeding. As an automatic consequence, the body sends emergency signals from the cardiovascular system.

Prolonged outbursts have different effects on different parts of the human body. A sustained mental strain through inner agitation overstrains the brain, which can not recover. A constant alert takes away the energy of man in self-control. As a result, this can be the trigger for tantrums.

A strong internal burden and the production of adrenalin in massive confrontations weakens the immune system. There is no adequate defense against irritants. Allergic reactions, hives or shingles are possible as harmful consequences. The connection between aggression and illness often remains unrecognized by the person concerned.

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