Aggression can pass from generation to generation

It is easy to see that aggression is almost a way of living for some criminals in their mutual relationships. It is part of a subculture with the ‘strongest’ at the top of the hierarchy retaining control over others. Unfortunately, they must maintain their aggression to remain there and to ‘prove’ themselves. Violent ways of resolving conflict through aggression are probably valued and respected in such a subculture, where expressions of anger and aggression are constantly reinforced. But, we don’t even have to go to a criminal subculture to witness this. There are families where aggression is the main way to resolve conflict and where the physically strongest may be the most admired. In such families aggression may be passed down and learned for generations, each generation breeding a new set of violent individuals, so that aggression becomes inbuilt. It is ineffably sad to imagine that innocent children from a very young age are brainwashed and go on to live a life of violence in their teenage and adult years. Firstly it becomes a habit, then a way of being, a way of self-definition and finally an addiction. If we really want to see aggression and anger as an addiction, we only have to consider serial killers. Research has shown that aggressive behaviour helps them meet a basic need. They may put forward reasons for killing others, such as sex workers, as protecting society from immorality, but the killing gives them relief from whatever inner stresses that torment them. When the relief wears off they kill again and again.
Many people confuse the feeling of anger with angry behaviour. We are not responsible for our feelings, but we must own our behaviour. Yet, some people see angry behaviour as an advantage and refuse to give it up. This is seen in the household, in the workplace and in society. Parents may see angry behaviour as necessary to discipline their children. They feel that anger ‘persuades’ their children to do as they are told and to obey household rules. Unfortunately this is a very misplaced and irrational belief. All that they are doing is teaching their children that anger is the best way to communicate and to have control. Such a belief can then be carried on for generations within a family system.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018

Posted in anger
Tags: ,