Anger is a common emotion shared by almost everyone. Some amount of anger can even be considered healthy. However, for some people, anger may extend beyond just emotions and lead to upsetting and, equally distressing, violent thoughts. This article attempts to explore why some people may experience violent thoughts when they are angry. 

Understanding Anger

Anger is a natural and intense emotion that we experience. It is often triggered by underlying feelings of frustration, perceived injustice or a threat. Sometimes anger can be a result of underlying feelings of hurt or even fear Anger is an important emotion, as it serves as a signal that there is an external threat that requires our attention. However, in some cases, anger can lead to violent and aggressive thoughts, due to various reasons. They are:

  • Intensity of Anger

The more intense the emotion, the deeper you are likely to experience it, Anger, too, like other emotions, can differ in its intensity. The amount of anger we experience usually depends on the level of threat we perceive in a situation. Violent thoughts may indicate that our anger has reached an extreme level. 

  • Rumination

Rumination is when we tend to focus on negative past experiences. Anger-focused rumination specifically involves repeatedly thinking about frustrating past experiences that made us angry. This anger-focused rumination not only maintains the anger but can also worsen it. The more our minds ruminate, the more anger we feel. Research also suggests that anger-focused rumination can contribute to violent thoughts and aggressive behaviour.   

  • Unresolved Emotions

One of the most common ways of coping with intense emotions is through repression. Repression is when we unintentionally avoid uncomfortable feelings. Anger, if repressed for a long time, can contribute to sudden feelings of irritability, sudden outbursts and even violent thoughts. Another factor contributing to violent thoughts during anger is unresolved trauma. People who have experienced past trauma may have heightened emotional responses to anger triggers, leading to violent thoughts.

  • Lack of Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage one’s own emotions. When people are unable to manage their anger, it may escalate to more intense and violent thoughts.

  • Underlying Factors

Biological factors such as a family history of anger issues, and genetics can play a role in people experiencing violent thoughts. Apart from that, personality factors and underlying mental health issues such as anxiety can also contribute to violent thoughts during anger.

How To Cope With Violent Thoughts During Anger?

It is important to remember that just having violent thoughts does not make someone an aggressive person, but how we manage these thoughts makes all the difference. A few ways to manage violent thoughts are:

  1. Don’t try to avoid violent thoughts, the more you try to suppress or avoid them, the more they are likely to cause trouble. Instead, practice accepting these thoughts without judgment Tell yourself that these are just thoughts, and you don’t have to act on them.
  2. Write your thoughts in a diary. Writing helps you get these thoughts out of your mind. You can also reach out to a trusted friend and open up to them.
  3. Distract yourself with activities that will help you feel better. You can try any activity, from listening to music to doing a quick workout. The goal is to help you cope with anger
  4. If anger and violent thoughts have been interfering with your life for a long time, consider reaching out to a therapist. A therapist can help you address the root causes of anger while also helping you develop coping mechanisms.


Anger is a natural and common emotion. It is usually a response to perceived injustice or threat. One can have violent thoughts during anger due to multiple reasons, such as the intensity of the situation, rumination, unresolved issues or even underlying mental health conditions. However, it is important to know that experiencing violent thoughts does not mean you are an aggressive person, but how one manages these thoughts makes the difference. One can cope with violent thoughts by practicing acceptance, writing a journal, engaging in distraction activities or seeking help at the right time

Want to know more about anger management? Click here to read our article on the physiology of anger


  1. Anger Management Techniques to Calm You Down Fast. (n.d.). Verywell Mind. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from
  2. Are Anger Issues Genetic? Can Anger Run in Families? | Thriveworks. (2019, January 22). Https://Thriveworks.Com/.
  3. Hosie, J., Simpson, K., Dunne, A., & Daffern, M. (2022). A study of the relationships between rumination, anger rumination, aggressive script rehearsal, and aggressive behavior in a sample of incarcerated adult males. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 78(9), 1925–1939.
  4. Violent Thoughts: An Anxiety Symptom. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2024, from


Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin