The Aggression Cycle


Any episode of anger display starts from scratch and builds up, either steadily or rapidly through three stages.

Aggression Phases

Here we will discuss these stages along with the actions associated with them.

  • Escalation − At this stage, we start receiving various cues that our mind and our body give us about the anger building up inside us. These cues are physical (heavy breathing), behavioral (teeth-clenching), emotional (guilt), or cognitive (images of revenge).

  • Expression − If the Escalation Phase continues unattended, the Expression Phase will soon follow. This is characterized by violent display of anger which includes either verbal or physical aggression.

  • Post-expression − It is at this stage when we start realizing the negative consequences that were the direct result of the verbal or physical aggression. They could range from inner feelings of guilt, shame, and regret to more external implications such as arrest, and retribution from others.

Every individual has his personal intensity, frequency, and duration of anger in the Aggression Cycle. For example, one person may get angry in just a few minutes. Another person’s anger may escalate slowly over a long duration before hitting the Expression Stage.


The Aim of Anger Management is to prevent people from reaching the Expression Stage. With the help of effective techniques and practices, anger can be identified and controlled before it reaches the Escalation Stage.