Everyone knows the feeling. It's that rage that rises when a driver is cut off on the highway—and just wants to floor it and flip the bird. Anger is a corrosive emotion that can run off with a person's mental and physical health. Is holding it in the solution? Or letting it all out? Anger doesn't dissipate just because it is unleashed; in fact, that just rehearses it. However raw it can be, anger is a necessary emotion, serves mankind well in certain situations, and like all emotions, benefits from good management lest it cause self-harm or erupt into hostile, aggressive, or perhaps even violent behavior toward others.
Anger is considered one of the basic emotions, along with happiness, sadness, anxiety, and disgust. Researchers posit that these emotions have served a protective purpose over the long course of human history. In particular, anger is related to the “fight, flight, or freeze” response of the sympathetic nervous system; it prepares human faculties for the first option—to fight. But fighting doesn't necessarily mean throwing punches; it might motivate communities to combat injustice by changing laws or intentionally shifting norms of behavior.
Of course, anger too easily or frequently mobilized can undermine relationships and, studies show, it is deleterious to bodies in the long term. It prompts the release of a flood of compounds—cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline—that prepare the body to fight. As a result, anger makes muscles tense, our heart rates increase, and blood pressure rise. Prolonged release of the stress hormones that accompany anger can destroy neurons in areas of the brain associated with judgment and short-term memory, and it can weaken the immune system.