Is Anger a Primary Emotion

2 months ago


Countless lives have been lost due to anger, in place of more appropriate reactions, in consequence of a dearth of character, as depicted in the beatitudes. We get angry as our primary emotions motivate us. Anger isn’t a primary emotion, but an elected response to our inadequacy.

As an evil, anger has destructive impact like few other of Satan’s favorites in his hierarchy of objectives. Countless children have lost their lives over millennia in consequence of angry parents responding with violence, with both intended and unintended results. Countless families have been destroyed, jobs lost, women abused and hopes dashed by anger. Wars have been waged, decimating populations and laying waste the value of an unimaginable accumulation of work. I have personally witnessed and even been responsible for such evil in moments of exasperation, after which I have realized that I had misperceived the circumstances and that anger is never suitable, at any time. This opinion is bolstered by spiritual enlightenment.

There is no more authoritative source on the subject of anger than the Word of God, in my opinion. James, addresses the 12 Tribes in James 1:19-20 in the KJV : “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” and Paul in his address to the Colossians 3:8” But now ye also put off all these; anger….”. Since we cannot choose our primary emotions, anger is not a primary emotion in light of these admonitions to refrain therefrom.


Anger is not only a response to a sense of inadequacy but also an inadequacy of itself. President Gordon B. Hinkley, of the Quorum of the twelve Apostles, stated in an address titled “Our Solemn Responsibilities” in a General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints in October 1991 as follows:” "Anger is not an expression of strength. It is an indication of one’s inability to control his thoughts, words, his emotions.”

Many people believe anger to be a primary emotion and even go so far as to offer it in mitigation of criminal action. In an Article written by Matthew Tull, PhD and published or updated on 24 June 2019 at the following Internet address :, it is asserted that :” People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience strong emotions. If you have PTSD, you may experience sadness, anger, or anxiety when you're reminded of the traumatic event or at other stressful moments. These emotional reactions are all primary…. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you'll probably feel irritated or angry. In this situation, anger or irritation is a primary emotion, because it occurred as a direct consequence of the event (being cut off in traffic).”

The logic presented in the last sentence of this counter-position, as a reason for categorizing anger as a primary emotion is flawed since anger is a response to the frustration alluded to. A different response to the frustration might be sympathy for the circumstance motivating the person cutting him off, such as, attempting to reach a hospital in time to save his child’s life. Jesus himself in council such as, turn the other cheek, exercise patience, kindness and longsuffering, empathy and charity, put others first and consider their motives as important as our own, is exhorting us to avoid pride and to be humble, which leaves no room for anger.

[Attribution](Image by skeeze from Pixabay)

I posit that all reasonable evidence dictates that anger is a choice and that there is no legitimate argument against that assertion. The judicial systems of the nations of the world have, at least in the vast majority of cases, if not without exception, ratified the consensus of human thinking on the subject. Furthermore, all the sages, through the ages have come to the same conclusion and I believe all “inspired” religiously revered sources give clarity to this claim.

Original work, produced under the title "Anger is a choice", as part of an online Life Skills course for the BYU Idaho Pathway Worldwide Program, which provides affordable educational opportunities to millions of people accross the globe, (which affords access to IV League Universities), who often do not have the resources to engage in such in their own financial capacity or with their existing accreditation. Link

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Having lost my Temper several times in Public , I know exactly how this feels!

I can't control what happen around me or how other people treat me but I sure can control how I respond. A reaction can absolutely be controlled. No one MAKES me agree. I ALLOW myself to become angered. Unfortunately emotional control is not taught and is being weeded out of our society. Hence all this emotion vs logic going on everywhere. Workplace. Politics. Relationships. It's crazy. Excellent post and so relevant.