The anger of a child turns inward and becomes core to re-emerge in adulthood

The human is born with hope, curiosity and love, but when an infant’s dependency needs are not met these turn to ashes, and toxic or core anger is one of the external signs of fear of abandonment. Initially, the faces of angry infants are contorted and crimson as they rage, but if the emotional (or physical) neglect continues they withdraw and the faces register sadness and resignation. The anger turns inward and becomes toxic, to emerge in adulthood as chronic rage, when it is sometimes used as a control mechanism. This anger is an instinct to allay the fear of the inner abandoned child. Healthy anger is an energetic and normally short-lived response to hurt, but toxic anger is chronic, long-lasting, and devastating. Some writers have described toxic anger as similar to post-traumatic stress, i.e. the stress following a trauma. The trauma in this case is the loss of a childhood, which is a prolonged emotional experience that is extremely difficult to process. This emotional neglect is the greatest killer of the human spirit, but it is not the only way that children are infused with toxic anger.
It is said that when we are born we only know how to survive in the wilderness. Everything else is learned. There is, therefore, the possibility that children, who are constantly exposed to anger, may eventually learn it. Anger is seen by them as a way of communication, because their parents can only communicate in an angry way. In other words, for such children angry communication is normal because that is all they see. They also recognise that an angry parent gets what he or she wants, and may form a belief that anger is power to dominate others. This behaviour may be carried on in adult life. It is essential for parents to be aware of their own anger and how they express and use it. They should strongly consider how they deal with it, although this presumes a level of awareness that they may not have.
As you have seen, childhood can be lost in various ways. Sometimes a parent’s own feelings may be so frozen that the children are unused to seeing the expression of emotion, or they may be forbidden to express their own feelings. This is a tragedy. If they feel sad they must put on a ‘smiley face.’ Even crying can be forbidden and this is the greatest tragedy because our tears are inbuilt ways of releasing tension and expressing sadness and empathy. Children are often afraid to express their anger because they might make matters worse or because they feel that their parents might not understand. When children are emotionally muzzled in this way they suffer a deep loss, and anger may emerge in adolescence or early adulthood.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
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