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Why do some people become more aggressive when tired?

Why do some people become more aggressive when tired?


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Why do some people become more aggressive when they are tired? I've been thinking about this question for a few days and my 'hypothesis' is that the neural activity in the prefrontal cortex lessens as the brain prioritises the other more primitive parts of the brain. Is it also so that the amygdala becomes more active when tired for some reason?

I've tried to search for answers on Google but can't find any satisfying ones. Optimally, I'd like to see brain scans and have them explained, but maybe that's asking for too much.


From Poor sleep as a potential causal factor in aggression and violence

  • In most people poor sleep will not evoke actual physical aggression, but certain individuals, such as forensic psychiatric patients, may be particularly vulnerable to the emotional dysregulating effects of sleep disturbances

  • The relation between sleep problems and aggression may be mediated by the negative effect of sleep loss on prefrontal cortical functioning. This most likely contributes to loss of control over emotions, including loss of the regulation of aggressive impulses to context-appropriate behavior.

  • Other potential contributing mechanisms connecting sleep problems to aggression and violence are most likely found within the central serotonergic and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis. Individual variation within these neurobiological systems may be responsible for amplified aggressive responses induced by sleep loss in certain individuals.


being tired affects the brain in some ways similar to being drunk, it is not so much making you aggressive as impairing your ability to suppress aggression. The amygdala routinely produces aggressive impulses which the prefrontal overrides/suppresses. lack of sleep impairs its ability to override. https://walkerlab.berkeley.edu/reprints/Yoo-Walker_CurrBiol_2007.pdf


Screw you! The psychology of anger and aggression

You can't have missed the latest Twitter debacle. Some deeply unpleasant individuals got very angry at women pursuing pro-female agendas publicly. People then got very angry at these individuals who were sending threats and at Twitter in general for not doing more to stop it. Some people then got angry at these people in turn about the solutions they wanted. A brief twitter-boycott was then organised by a high profile person who seems to make people angry with her I mean their very existence. People then got very angry about the supposed rationale behind this boycott. People then got very angry with these people who were angry about the boycott. There may have been more but it was getting too complex for me. I'm only a neuroscientist.

Around this time, GQ were receiving an onslaught of rage-fuelled messages from One Direction fans, due to innocuous comments made about Harry Styles, one of the bipedal haircuts in the aforementioned band. Then they announced the new Doctor Who and many got angry about him being another white male. That's a major issue for some not enough racial/gender diversity in Time Lords. Each to their own.

A lot of anger about lately, is what I'm saying. If it were a liquid we'd be piling sandbags against our doors. But where does it all come from? And why is it so often directed at bizarre targets?

Psychologically, it's a complex subject (as many emotions tend to be). Aggression (in humans) is defined by Anderson and Bushman as "any behaviour directed toward another individual that is carried out with the proximate (immediate) intent to cause harm. In addition, the perpetrator must believe the behaviour will cause harm and that the target is motivated to avoid the behaviour". Someone's doing something you don't like (e.g be a woman who expresses opinions), you do something to them which you know will cause harm (e.g. threaten them with violence and assault), and they'll hopefully respond to prevent you doing that again (e.g. stop voicing opinions).

It's important to differentiate anger and aggression. Anger is the state of emotional and physiological arousal. You can get angry about something but opt to not behave aggressively to someone as a result this sort of behaviour is regarded as rather mature. Similarly, you can be very aggressive to someone, e.g. by mugging them, without being angry at that person odds are you know nothing about them apart from the fact that they may have valuables on them. For the record, mugging someone is not regarded as mature.

Hostility is the cognitive component of aggression. It's the stuff you think about that leads to aggressive behaviour, and keeps it happening while you're doing it. Hostile aggression is when you react aggressively and impulsively to perceived threat/insult. Conversely, instrumental aggression is when you use aggression to acquire more long term goals. A co-worker who openly belittles you in front of others is likely using instrumental aggression to obtain promotions at your expense you subsequently attempting to cave his head in with a stapler while he's in the toilet is hostile aggression.

There are numerous theories behind human aggression. Psychodynamic, evolutionary, ethological, the frustration-aggression hypothesis, cue-arousal, social learning and many more. Perhaps the most comprehensive take is the general aggression model. Neuroscientificallly, aggression is believed to involve the frontal lobes, the amygdala and serotonin, but the overall understanding of it seems limited. This is understandable to scientifically study anger you'd need people to get angry. However, most psychological experiments on humans require ethical approval, and actively harming/angering people is unlikely to get that. On the Venn-diagram of "people easily angered" and "people who willingly volunteer to let scientists poke and prod them" there's not going to be much overlap, so opportunities for research are limited.

But another interesting question is why people seem so angry about relatively inconsequential things so often these days. One possibility is that it's been hot lately, and people are more aggressive when it's hot. What with climate change, maybe we can expect more of this?

The frustration-aggression hypothesis says we get angry when frustrated when our desires, goals or expectations are thwarted. There are so many opportunities for this these days, what with capitalism telling us all the things we could/should have (but can't), the media telling us how terrible everything is with the economy/environment/politics/everything else, and the internet ensuring we have a constant stream of potentially frustrating info, it's easy to see how people could live in a perpetual state of simmering anger. However, it's often difficult to do anything about these frustrations, so it's likely to result in displaced aggression. This is where you can't respond to the thing that's frustrating you due to it being unavailable or, more frustratingly, something or someone who has the greater ability to harm you if you react. The arousal of anger doesn't dissipate quickly, so it's often transferred to less deserving but more convenient targets. Your life isn't going as you'd hoped and your situation sucks? It can't be your fault it's those damn women and feminists, ruining society and screwing you over in the process. But thanks to the internet, you now have ample opportunity to get your "revenge".

That's one thing the internet does do well it provides ample things for us to get angry about that we've power to change or affect, but it does offer us plenty of avenues to displace and vent our aggression and anger at more minor, less significant targets.

Obviously the truth of the matter is way more complex, taking in societal, evolutionary and psychological factors beyond the scope of a single blog post. And anger and aggression are not all bad. Without anger, serious injustices would go unanswered, we would be less motivated to protect ourselves and our loved ones and may not have survived as a species, and the Daily Mail web traffic would collapse like a rice-paper canoe.

But anger and aggression are all too easy to fall victim to, and often over the most insubstantial of reasons when you think about it, which is rarely of benefit to anyone. After all, it was Sigmund Freud who said "Anger leads to fear, fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side".

And if that last line doesn't anger a large number of people, I'll be very surprised.

Dean Burnett is a veritable ray of sunshine on Twitter, @garwboy

He also does a very soothing podcast with his friend and co-blogger Dave Steele.


Cause of Aggression/Violence With Anxiety

On its most basic level, aggression with anxiety isn't "common." In fact, researchers have found that the stress hormone cortisol may actually inhibit an aggressive response, and since anxiety causes stress, it's implied that those with anxiety are more cautious.

But just because it's not common doesn't mean it doesn’t happen. In fact, there are many reasons that anxiety can lead to aggression. Here are some of the ways that anxiety can make you more prone to be aggressive or violent:

  • Fight or Flight Response Anxiety is caused by the activation of the fight or flight response. It's a response designed to keep you safe from danger, and it is supposed to only occur when you're faced with fear. Anxiety can be defined as the occurrence of the fight or flight response when there is no real danger. While the fight/flight response doesn't necessarily "cause" fighting, it is mediated by the release of adrenaline, which can make a person more aggressive.
  • Irritability People who are more prone to aggression but have otherwise been able to control their aggression may find that it's harder to control their aggressive impulses when anxiety causes them to become irritable.. There are some people who understand that they need to become more cautious when they are irritable, but people who haven’t reflected upon their irritability and its ability to cause aggression can become aggressive when they are feeling irritable..
  • Steroids Use of anabolic steroids is on the rise, despite the dangers. Studies have shown that those that take performance enhancing steroids tend to experience more anxiety as well as more aggression. Anxiety in this cases isn't causing the aggression but the two are related.
  • Workplace Stress Someone that experiences a great deal of stress at work may have anxiety because of pent up aggression that they have repressed as they work. Maybe you’re angry at your boss for his or her consistent criticisms. Maybe you are jealous of a workmate who is more liked than yourself. As pent up aggression builds up, it becomes harder and harder to keep it in, and you might find yourself attacking someone when you really don’t want to do it.
  • Social Anxiety and Aggression Social anxiety often leads people to be shy and withdrawn in social situations. But some people who suffer from social anxiety respond to social rejection with aggression and hostility.

If you find yourself losing control and being hostile and aggressive with people when you don’t want to be hostile, you should seek professional help. It is like any other problem. If you want to stop being aggressive or violent with people, you have to first recognize that you have a problem.

When you attack another person emotionally, or get violent with them, it is not okay for either you or them. When you attack someone, you are going to hurt yourself as much as you hurt the other person, if not more. For example, if you allow yourself to get really angry at someone, that anger can last for hours and cause you to remain in a bad mood. Or cause you to be ashamed of yourself. Or cause a stress reaction within your body. It’s important to find ways to be both honest with yourself when you are angry with someone, and at the same time get to the root of the problem you are having with that person with attacking them.


2. Guarding the food

Since the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a hound, guarding the food can be a very often occurrence. Many of the hound breeds showcase this behavior and the reason behind it is that they are predators who live and work in packs, so they have a natural instinct to protect the food from the other members of the pack. Although this behavior is the most common with food, it can also happen with other objects that they favor around the house.

It is important for you to know not to punish your pup for this behavior since it is something that is very natural to him or her. Instead, make sure that you teach him good behavior habits since the first day that you meet. Teaching your dog that good things happen when a human approaches with food is crucial for not having problems in the future. Positive associations are a very good approach in this case.

Usually, dogs exhibit these behaviors since when they are little puppies. The breeders don’t usually put too much effort into this problem since they mostly focus on qualities that are important for testing in shows. However, puppies develop this behavioral problem since they are born and have to compete with their siblings for milk which sometimes can be scarce. The more dominant puppies end up eating a bigger share, and as a result to that they grow up faster and end up monopolizing the bowls. This behavior continues throughout their lives if they are not taught otherwise.

If you are having problems with food possession with your Rhodesian Ridgeback, you can do the following things:

  • Feed the puppy by hand — give the puppy treats while speaking to them gently and pet them with your other hand. Similarly to this, feed the puppy by holding the bowl in your hand and while they are eating keep petting them and speaking to them gently.
  • Drop treats in his bowl — while the puppy is eating, gently approach and place a treat into their food. This way you will make a positive association with humans being around their bowl during feeding time.
  • Seek professional help — this behavior is not something to be taken lightly, especially when it is happening in big breeds like Rhodesian Ridgebacks. If the situation is dangerous for you and your family, seek out professional trainers that will be able to work on this behavior better than you.

Golden Doodle Aggression

We are the owners of a 4-year old Golden Doodle. She is an incredibly smart dog and we are very ‘tolerant’ owners. She has the ability to be very well behaved but we have not displayed the commitment to training her in a consistent manner. Many of her foibles seem minor but her reaction to other animals is challenging us. She is very exuberant and her energy can quickly overwhelm other dogs. She is not initially aggressive but will not back down if another dog begins to become aggressive. In the past few months, she now displays this behaviour with animals on television. Our friends laugh when they direct us to the ‘Dog Whisperer’ for tips and we have to admit that Sally won’t let us watch it. If the commercial or programming includes animals, she will charge up to the tv, and bark incessantly. If we have the energy, we get up and physically intervene, if not, we change the channel. Once the channel is changed, Sally stays in place to ensure the animal is not returning. She will look to either side of the tv. She has the ability to be trained, we just need the will and guidance to do it. Thoughts?

I suspect that what you see as “exuberant energy” might be described differently by guests and the people at the dog park. The lady in the commercial that learns she can clean up more spills with less paper towels has “exuberant energy”. Your dog comes across as more like what would happen if Jim Carrey and Robin Williams had a child.

Let’s consider two possibilities for now. There is something in dog training called learned helplessness. It refers to a dog that just stops trying because whoever has been doing the “training” has done such a poor job that the dog doesn’t believe there is an answer and it no longer makes an effort. Learned helplessness can be found on the other end of the leash as well. Some dog owners exposure to training has only been the “treat-only”, “all positive”, “ignore the bad behaviour, reward the good behaviour,” which produces the same dismal results with a dog as it does a teenager. If you don’t change your approach you’d better resign yourself to the fact that the kid is never moving out.

Your letter left some clues to another possibility. “We are very ‘tolerant’ owners”, “we have not displayed the commitment to training her in a consistent manner”, “we have to admit that Sally won’t let us”, “if we have the energy”, “we just need the will”. Seriously in any cat’s mind you’d be a dream come true but for a dog it’s the road to bedlam. Dogs need more structure. In fact they crave it.

I have no doubt you love her to death but if it has been 4 years and you’re still trying to find the energy to get off the couch before she knocks the flat screen off the wall you’re going to need a little more caffeine in your diet and an appointment or two with a balanced trainer. If her carrying on is a byproduct of learned helplessness on your part, same answer. Find yourself a good balanced trainer that can show you that a dog is capable of being told and responding to, “Stop it!”, and still maintain its self-esteem and love you as much if not more.


The Cranky Dieter Explained: How Self-Control Makes You Angry

Have you ever noticed that people on diets are really crabby? While many might blame low blood sugar or a general lack of pleasure (rice cakes, cabbage soup — ugh!), recent psychological research suggests that it’s actually the exercise of self-control that leads people to become irritable and aggressive at inappropriate times.

The prevailing theory is that because self-control is a finite resource, when you deplete it — say by consistently choosing carrots over cupcakes or by refraining from splurging at the shoe store — you’re less likely to be able to control urges toward anger or aggression when they arise at inappropriate times.

“Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others, and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger,” said researchers David Gal, an assistant professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Wendy Liu, an assistant professor of marketing at the Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego, in a statement. (More on Time.com: Health-Washing: Is ‘Healthy’ Fast Food for Real?)

Now in a new study, the marketing professors further explore the association between self-control and anger, and find that the two may linked in a broader way: in their study, people who exerted self-control showed anger-related behaviors even in situations in which they weren’t inappropriate and, thus, wouldn’t necessarily have to be snuffed out.

In a series of three experiments, the researchers asked study participants to exercise self-control in various ways, then measured their tendency to make aggressive or anger-related choices. In the first experiment, participants were asked to choose between two snacks — an apple or a chocolate bar — before choosing a movie to watch. (Another group chose the movie first, then were given a snack choice after watching.)

Among those who made the good-for-you initial choice (the low-calorie, high-fiber apple), 64% subsequently opted to watch a movie with aggressive themes, like Anger Management (over Billy Madison) or Hamlet (over Romeo and Juliet). By contrast, 55% of those who did not have to choose a snack before the film picked an anger-themed movie. As for the people who got chocolate — either before or after the film — they chose anger-themed movies at the same rate.

Dieting isn’t the only form of self-control that may cause aggression. In another experiment, a group of 139 women were randomly assigned to choose between a $50 gift certificate for a spa treatment (the indulgent, enjoyable choice) or for groceries (the responsible option) either before or after rating a series of six photographs of angry or fearful faces. (More on Time.com: Calorie Counts on Menus: Apparently, Nobody Cares)

The women who chose the gift certificate for groceries before rating the faces gave the angry faces a score of 3.75 (based on a 1-to-7 scale, where 1 is “not arousing” and 7 is “extremely arousing”) the group who selected groceries after rating faces gave the angry faces a score of 3.12 score. There was no difference in angry-face scores among the participants who chose the spa treatment.

In the final experiment, participants were again asked to choose between an apple or a candy bar either before or after reading a message that suggested exercise by using controlling words like “should,” “ought,” “must” and “need to.” As expected, the people who chose an apple before reading the health messages were more likely to rate them as irritating.

“Given that most individuals are frequently engaged in self-regulation throughout any given day — whether it be resisting the urge to mock one’s boss, to yell at a screaming
baby, to eat an extra slice of chocolate cake, to save instead of spend, or to play instead of work — our findings suggest that anger-related behavior might be more prevalent than previously assumed or reported,” the researchers wrote. (More on Time.com: Diet Soda May Lead to Stroke Risk? Really?)

They also described some interesting marketing implications, suggesting, for example, that anger-themed movies and video games (like the mobile video game “Angry Birds”) would do well to advertise in health-food aisles of grocery stores and other places where people do their best to exert self-control.

For policy makers, the authors suggest they remain mindful of the emotional consequences on the consumer of public-service admonitions to eat healthily or save for retirement, and try using more positive ways to persuade people to behave responsibly.

As for the angry, self-deprived consumer herself, the authors’ best advice involves “avoiding self-control dilemmas in the first place or cognitively reappraising the situation so that the virtuous choice does not involve a denial of satisfaction.” Try as you might to convince yourself, though, no apple is likely to satisfy you, if what you really want is a Hershey bar. So go ahead and splurge once in a while.


Why Empaths become Fatigued around Certain People.

They have invisible antennae, and they are not only able to process and transform the emotions of those around them, but they can transmute energy from the past and future—on any scale and at any distance.

This offers empaths the natural ability to receive, absorb, process, transmute, and relay energy, so that low, negative emotional vibrations turn into healthy, high, positive ones.

Transmuting energy is an alchemical process that changes the form, character, substance, and direction of energy. We are all alchemists, and we all have the power to transmute and alter emotional energy—however, this is one of an empath’s prominent skills, as they are emotionally intelligent, natural healers, and ultra-sensitive to energy. Therefore, they quickly identify negative entities—and then freely express love, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, and understanding—so that the vibration of the energy instantly transforms, and harmful negative energy is fluidly transmuted to positive.

Some people transmute consciously, and others do it subconsciously. If we are not aware that we are able to transmute energy, we will likely be doing it subconsciously—and we may be transmuting constantly, which could lower our vibration and lead us to feeling exhausted and depleted.

Many empaths suffer with fatigue and burn out—transmuting other people’s energy, particularly when it is extremely toxic and low, is one of the main reasons.

If there is someone around us who is constantly on a low energetic frequency, they could be depleting our energy, which may lower our own vibration—so, we must try to remain in a constant state of energy awareness and take precautions to ensure our energy is on a sustainable high frequency.

Empaths are sensitive to energy, and they attune to other people’s emotions, which means they immediately pick up on how other people are feeling. This can magnetically draw people toward them—or it pulls empaths toward others, as it feels natural for empaths to receive and process emotions to further enable healing.

The reason many empaths empathize at such deep and intense levels is because they temporarily take on and feel other people’s emotions as though they are their own. This can be part of the curse aspect of the “empath blessing and curse,” as it can be extremely painful and traumatic to feel other people’s emotions and feelings.

Emotions carry a strong vibration. The easiest way to describe an emotion is that it is energy in motion: E-motion.

Positive emotions carry a high vibration, and negative emotions carry a low vibration. High vibrations—such as unconditional love, kindness, patience, compassion, generosity, understanding, forgiveness, and humility—are capable of consuming and transforming low vibrations, such as fear, bitterness, resentment, rage, anger, jealousy, spite, and hatred. Low vibrations can also consume and cancel out high-vibration emotions.

When we express emotion, we are expressing an energetic vibration. Every time there is an emotional response, there is an expression of life force energy, prana. The stronger the emotional response, the greater amount of energy it carries with it, and the more forcefully it vibrates.

To dispel negative energy, we just need to set an intention to emanate high-vibrational, compassionate emotions. For example, if we feel that someone is venting anger, we can pick up on the radiating negative energy—and then, focus on transmuting the energy by emanating strong, high-vibrational, loving, compassionate thoughts, emotions, and feelings, so that the low vibrations are lifted up and transformed into higher, positive ones.

Transmuting begins when we remain nonjudgmental, regardless of how toxic and volatile the surrounding energy feels. If someone is directing low-vibrational thoughts, emotions, feelings, or intentions toward us—whether intentionally or unintentionally—we can radiate loving, light energy, so that the energy does not affect us.

Although transmuting is powerful, it is usually best not to expect miracles or believe the other person will change their thoughts, feelings, or intentions—as this will only happen if the person radiating negativity opens up to our energetic response and is willing to communicate energetically.

The reason empaths experience other people’s emotional, mental, and physical anguish is ultimately so that they are prompted to take action. Feeling other people’s pain and torment compels us to alleviate it—not just for the other person, but also for ourselves, so we no longer feel it.

Empathizing can sometimes be troublesome, as our own vibration can lower due to the sudden influx of low-vibrational energy. Therefore, it is important to remain aware that the sensations we are absorbing are not our own.

By remaining consciously aware, we can keep the incoming energy separate from our own, so that it does not remain in our energy field for longer than the few moments it takes to transmute it.

Negative external stimuli can be detrimental to our well-being, so it is crucial that we take care of ourselves first, before trying to take care of anyone else. We can do this by remaining grounded and protective of our energy—and also by being aware of how we were feeling before we sensed incoming overwhelming energy. This helps to ensure we are feeling balanced, as well as emotionally and mentally healthy, before we attempt to transmute anyone else’s energy.

When we express ourselves from the heart center—and we are unconditionally loving, compassionate, and accepting—we vibrate on a higher frequency, which helps us to automatically transmute negative energy to positive, without having to remain consciously aware that we are doing it and without it draining us.

Whenever someone projects emotional energy toward us, it is essential to remember that those emotions do not belong to us, and we do not need to absorb or hold on to them.

If someone attempts to pull us into an argument, and we feel an impulse to respond, we can practice transmuting the energy instead. When we are not used to transmuting, this technique can seem a little difficult however, it soon becomes a natural way to avoid being triggered and reacting in ways that pull our energy levels lower.

When we are with a partner, friend, family member, or colleague whose energy is low and negative, we need to be cautious that we are not consistently taking on their emotions and experiencing them as though they are our own. Many empaths notice that they start to feel stressed, moody, or anxious when around people who feel that way.

Therefore, before we assign any particular emotional or mental state to ourselves, it is vital to ensure that we are not just absorbing the energy from people we are surrounded by. This can also happen to people we are connected to from a distance.

If someone is radiating negative energy, and we are not vibrating on a high frequency, we can quickly become exhausted. Certain people’s company—or even their distant thoughts and feelings—can cause us to feel exhausted, irritated, frustrated, and overwhelmed. It can make us feel as though we are endlessly transmuting. When we take on someone else’s low-vibrational emotions, without being aware that they are not our own, we will likely start to feel energetically low ourselves.

Healers, parents, teachers, or anyone in a role that requires peace-keeping skills may also notice that they feel instantly low when any kind of turbulence occurs around them—especially as their aim is to neutralize, calm, and ensure the surrounding atmosphere is vibrating with health, vitality, and comforting positivity for the well-being of those in their care.

This is why it is vital that we do not deplete ourselves through taking on other people’s emotions. Otherwise, we will not only become burnt out ourselves, but we also won’t be in a position to support and guide those we are responsible for.

Caregivers naturally and instinctively absorb the emotional energy of a distressed baby. We can see this when we see a mother or father respond to their baby screaming or crying. When the baby is talked to, or rocked and soothed in its parent’s arms, the baby calms down and becomes peaceful and contented. The parents transmuted emotional energy—and, at the same time, altered the behavior of the baby.

If someone is not able to transmute energy easily, instead of being at ease while soothing the baby, they may engage with the vibration of the baby’s emotions and grow tense and upset themselves. It can then be far more challenging to regain harmony and peace.

Sometimes, it takes a moment for the parent to calm down after the initial baby’s screams. Then, as the parent expresses pure, loving emotions void of any tension, the energy begins to transmute. It is then clear to see both the parent and baby calmer and more settled as the transmuted energy affects and transforms them both.

Recent research carried out at the Institute of HeartMath supports this theory, with findings showing how a mother’s brainwaves synchronize with her baby’s heartbeat when they are in close contact. A mother can become more sensitive to the subtle information radiating from the electromagnetic vibrations of her child, which scientifically proves there is an exchange of energy from one human to the other.

Something that’s risen from the findings of the study is to observe how this works on a mass scale—to help shift global consciousness and to create a more peaceful, harmonious, heart-centered world.

When we are surrounded with people who are non-judgmental—and who radiate compassion and love—we will notice that we feel less exhausted and we do not feel the need to transmute energy.

When we make a conscious effort to radiate love from the heart center, we will not only notice an immediate difference in how we feel, but we will also notice a vibrational change in those around us, as the emanating energy creates a calm, peaceful, and uplifting environment.

Unconditional love generates from a profound understanding of ourselves and other people without fear, judgment, or any other negative emotions.

If we all loved and accepted one another unconditionally (and knew how to transmute energy), without doubt, the world would quickly become a more peaceful, compassionate, harmonious place to exist.


Golden Doodle Aggression

We are the owners of a 4-year old Golden Doodle. She is an incredibly smart dog and we are very ‘tolerant’ owners. She has the ability to be very well behaved but we have not displayed the commitment to training her in a consistent manner. Many of her foibles seem minor but her reaction to other animals is challenging us. She is very exuberant and her energy can quickly overwhelm other dogs. She is not initially aggressive but will not back down if another dog begins to become aggressive. In the past few months, she now displays this behaviour with animals on television. Our friends laugh when they direct us to the ‘Dog Whisperer’ for tips and we have to admit that Sally won’t let us watch it. If the commercial or programming includes animals, she will charge up to the tv, and bark incessantly. If we have the energy, we get up and physically intervene, if not, we change the channel. Once the channel is changed, Sally stays in place to ensure the animal is not returning. She will look to either side of the tv. She has the ability to be trained, we just need the will and guidance to do it. Thoughts?

I suspect that what you see as “exuberant energy” might be described differently by guests and the people at the dog park. The lady in the commercial that learns she can clean up more spills with less paper towels has “exuberant energy”. Your dog comes across as more like what would happen if Jim Carrey and Robin Williams had a child.

Let’s consider two possibilities for now. There is something in dog training called learned helplessness. It refers to a dog that just stops trying because whoever has been doing the “training” has done such a poor job that the dog doesn’t believe there is an answer and it no longer makes an effort. Learned helplessness can be found on the other end of the leash as well. Some dog owners exposure to training has only been the “treat-only”, “all positive”, “ignore the bad behaviour, reward the good behaviour,” which produces the same dismal results with a dog as it does a teenager. If you don’t change your approach you’d better resign yourself to the fact that the kid is never moving out.

Your letter left some clues to another possibility. “We are very ‘tolerant’ owners”, “we have not displayed the commitment to training her in a consistent manner”, “we have to admit that Sally won’t let us”, “if we have the energy”, “we just need the will”. Seriously in any cat’s mind you’d be a dream come true but for a dog it’s the road to bedlam. Dogs need more structure. In fact they crave it.

I have no doubt you love her to death but if it has been 4 years and you’re still trying to find the energy to get off the couch before she knocks the flat screen off the wall you’re going to need a little more caffeine in your diet and an appointment or two with a balanced trainer. If her carrying on is a byproduct of learned helplessness on your part, same answer. Find yourself a good balanced trainer that can show you that a dog is capable of being told and responding to, “Stop it!”, and still maintain its self-esteem and love you as much if not more.


Being Vulnerable Can Put You In Fight-Or-Flight Mode

"Underneath anger is, very often anxiety," Emily Pfannenstiel, LPC, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. "When people are feeling vulnerable, they are feeling anxious. They're exposing a part of themselves that could potentially get hurt."

When you feel safe and secure with someone, being vulnerable can be a really positive thing. It may be scary initially, but it can leave you feeling a lot closer to another person. But if you have a history of getting let down by others when you've opened up, you'll respond to your feelings of vulnerability by getting anxious.

"Feeling vulnerable when you don't feel emotionally or physically safe can activate the 'fight or flight' sympathetic nervous system," Karen J. Helfrich, LCSW-C, psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. "Vulnerability can trigger anger as a reactive means of establishing safety."

Anger is the "fight" response. When that response is activated, your body becomes prepared to fend off attacks. "The body sends strong energy out in the form of actual fighting, or nonverbal and vocal cues that convey a clear message to the other person's nervous system to 'get away' or 'back off,'" Helfrish says.

If someone has unresolved trauma from childhood, they may be more prone to anger when they start feeling vulnerable in romantic relationships. It's why some people start acting cold and distant when you're in a phase of getting closer and intimate.

If you're in a situation where someone you love gets angry when they're feeling vulnerable, it's important to take care of yourself first and foremost. Also, realize that you can't control anyone but yourself.

"Being vulnerable takes an incredible amount of trust and feeling of safety when opening up to a partner," Diana Venckunaite, certified life and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "If someone has a hard time being vulnerable, make sure that you start to create a safe space where they can be themselves."

If you're the one who has trouble opening up and being vulnerable, Helfrish says trauma-focused psychotherapy can be beneficial. This can help to resolve past trauma so you'll be less reactive to feeling vulnerable.

Estepha Francisque, LCSW, psychotherapist and executive director of Forward Ethos Counseling


The Science Of ‘Hangry’, Or Why Some People Get Grumpy When They’re Hungry

Have you ever snapped angrily at someone when you were hungry? Or has someone snapped angrily at you when they were hungry? If so, you’ve experienced “hangry” (an amalgam of hungry and angry) – the phenomenon whereby some people get grumpy and short-tempered when they’re overdue for a feed.

But where does hanger come from? And why is it that only some people seem to get hangry? The answer lies in some of the processes that happen inside your body when it needs food.

The Physiology Of Hanger

The carbohydrates, proteins and fats in everything you eat are digested into simple sugars (such as glucose), amino acids and free fatty acids. These nutrients pass into your bloodstream from where they are distributed to your organs and tissues and used for energy.

As time passes after your last meal, the amount of these nutrients circulating in your bloodstream starts to drop. If your blood-glucose levels fall far enough, your brain will perceive it as a life-threatening situation. You see, unlike most other organs and tissues in your body which can use a variety of nutrients to keep functioning, your brain is critically dependent on glucose to do its job.

You’ve probably already noticed this dependence your brain has on glucose simple things can become difficult when you’re hungry and your blood glucose levels drop. You may find it hard to concentrate, for instance, or you may make silly mistakes. Or you might have noticed that your words become muddled or slurred.

Another thing that can become more difficult when you’re hungry is behaving within socially acceptable norms, such as not snapping at people. So while you may be able to conjure up enough brain power to avoid being grumpy with important colleagues, you may let your guard down and inadvertently snap at the people you are most relaxed with or care most about, such as partners and friends. Sound familiar?