In Psychology, the word aggression has a more precise meaning than it does in everyday usage. Aggression is the most destructive force in our social relations. However, the assertive, persistent salesman is not aggressive, nor is the dentist who gives you occasional pain while sitting in the dental chair. The person who starts or passes along a vicious rumor, or the person who verbally bullies or assaults you, and the attacker who mugs your – these are aggressive. Any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy, whether done reactively out of hostility or proactively as a calculated means to an end, is aggression. Murders and assaults that occurred out of hostile outbursts are aggression. Just as wars and war-related deaths are calculated and planned aggression.

Biological Triggers

Just as aggression varies from person to person, our biology also triggers aggressive behavior. Biology influences at three levels – genetic, neural and biochemical. Our genes engineer our individual nervous systems. Studies suggest that genes influence human aggression. For example, if one identical twin admits to having a violent temper, the other twin will often independently admit the same. Researchers have found genetic markers in people who commit the most violence. One such marker, the Y chromosome, is carried by half the human race.

Neurological Disorders

We also have neural systems that when stimulated, either inhibit or produce aggressive behavior (Moyer, 1983). A 1986 study suggests that unrecognized neurological disorders may be one ingredient in violent individuals. Other studies of violent criminals have revealed diminished activity in the frontal lobes which play an important role in controlling impulses (Amen Et al., 1996). Another study of 15 death row inmates revealed that all 15 has suffered a severe head injury.

Our brain does not have a central violence center that produces aggression. Aggression, being a complex behavior, occurs in particular contexts. The brain has neural networks that facilitate aggression. Given provocation, the brain’s frontal lobe system actually inhibits aggression, making aggression more likely if the system is damaged. Inactive or not yet fully matured.

Testosterone Experiments

Certain substances in the blood – hormones, drugs, alcohol and others – also influence the neural systems that control aggression. A raging bull will become docile when castration reduces its testosterone level. Tests with castrated mice that have been injected with testosterone show that they once again become aggressive.

Violent criminals tend to have lower than average levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and higher than average testosterone levels. They tend to be more muscular and have lower than average intelligence scores (Dabbs Et al., 2001).  Drugs that reduce testosterone levels also subdue aggression. Among teenage boys and adult men, high testosterone levels correlate with delinquency, hard drug use, and aggressive-bullying (Berman Et al., 1993).

Psychotherapists treat aggressive behavior with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help develop coping mechanisms.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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