Why unrelenting, chronic rage is so toxic.


There is nothing wrong with anger when it’s needed. Righteous anger is a normal human emotion and helps us survive. When we are faced with danger, unfair treatment, or have been attacked (either overtly or covertly) by dangerous people, it’s normal to feel rage and anger. Anger is a stronger, more proactive emotion than fear, which it normally overrides if it’s powerful enough. Fear keeps us stuck in abusive relationships. Righteous anger is the only emotion that can give a normally fearful abuse victim the motivation and drive to leave their abusers and/or take action against them. All this is perfectly healthy and anything less than that is bound to keep you stuck in an abusive, codependent relationship.

But some people, especially those who suffered horrendous abuse by their own parents or caregivers who were supposed to love them, cannot let go of their rage, even after they go No Contact. That’s understandable, especially if their lives have been ruined due to the abuse they endured. But chronic rage isn’t healthy or helpful. Staying in a state of unrelenting, permanent anger is physically, mentally, and spiritually dangerous because it continues to fester and build on itself long after any immediate danger is past. Chronic rage destroys the body by releasing unhealthy levels of cortisone (the fight-or-flight hormone) into the blood, and this can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, heart problems including heart attacks, and a host of other medical problems. Anger is bad for the body when it’s chronic. High levels of cortisone brought on by rage are meant to be temporary and allow the person to confront or escape; otherwise it’s a poison.


Chronic rage is mentally and spiritually dangerous too. It festers away inside a person and causes them to become bitter and toxic to themselves as well as to others. It prevents a person from ever being able to feel true happiness or enjoy life. Chronically angry people are hard, unforgiving, bitter, cynical, easily enraged, and in great danger of becoming narcissistic themselves. I’ve become sadly aware of this sort of thing happening to some victims of abuse. That’s why I don’t think people should remain in a state of chronic anger, if it’s at all possible for them to move away from it. A good (non-narcissistic) therapist can help–or a pastor, rabbi or priest, or even a mature, empathetic non-angry friend if a competent therapist is unaffordable.

Letting go of rage doesn’t mean loving, enabling or forgiving your abusers. It doesn’t mean “hugging the narcs” or feeling sympathy for them, if you’re not so inclined. Letting go of anger when the danger is past is simply a step toward health and healing. The sort of unrelenting, chronic anger I’ve seen so often that keeps people stuck in a mentally dark place even without their abusers present can become a form of self-abuse. In essence, their abusers are continuing to destroy them even if they are no longer in contact.

Chronic, unrelenting rage can turn formerly good people into exactly the kind of people they hate the most–narcissists. They may not be aware this is happening to them, but others can see it. This is also one of the reasons why narcissism is so contagious and is sometimes compared to a communicable disease. Abusive, malignant narcissists can easily turn a person into one of them. Even Henry Rollins said so.

25 thoughts on “Why unrelenting, chronic rage is so toxic.

          • I felt a rage today. I was at a social event last night and another woman contradicted what I would say with arrogance. Because she has a high level of college education, she believes she’s better than others. She’s a progressive liberal who organizes events to raise awareness often. The same people keep showing up to the events and they keep passing around the same petitions. I’m very liberal too, but wouldn’t it make sense to just take a field trip into NYC and feed a few people? I don’t understand advocates anymore. They seem like a bunch of snobby smarty pants Narcissists that like to get together and hear themselves talk.

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  1. On my FB page I have an idea for an article. Its about the Smarty Pants people that society that have a high IQ. Society actually convinces them they are superior. But that was the 60s and 70s mindset. There are really 6 parts to intelligence in the modern Hierarchy way of thinking. My brother is studying this in his graduates degree. I think you’ll find it interesting. I did. It’s actually society that energizes cerebral narcissim. Because in the 60s and 70s they were considered geniuses. But in the modern Heirchy way of thinking equals number 1.

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      • I agree completely with what you are saying, Mary P. I am a member of Mensa, the “high IQ society.” Well, technically I guess I’m no longer a member, as I let my membership dues lapse years ago. Anyway, I used to be a member, because 36 years ago I took one of their proctored tests and my IQ score was 156, just four points below Einstein. But… I am so often an IDIOT! Seriously!! When I was a teenager I actually believed that I was mentally retarded… er, cognitively impaired (whatever the politically correct term is these days). I even told my high school guidance counselor that I seriously thought I was mentally retarded, and he informed me that my IQ was higher than any of the teachers in the school. I was like…. HUH?

        Since my IQ test in 1979, I have had a mini-stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack), two bad concussions, and I drank heavily for about a year and a half in the late 1980s…. so I doubt if I would score nearly so high on an IQ test, today. Even so, I still managed to make straight A’s in nursing school when I was in my early 40s, and this was AFTER my mini-stroke, two concussions, and drinking days. When I had the mini-stroke in 1987, after all the neurologist’s tests I was told that I hadn’t sustained any discernible brain damage. However, *I* could tell that I wasn’t quite the same afterward, and my kids could tell it, too. For one thing, mathematics suddenly became a foreign language.

        So, yes, there is a LOT MORE to “intelligence” than just how well a person can answer questions on an “IQ” test. Anyone who uses a high IQ score as their justification for behaving like a snotty condescending know-it-all, clearly doesn’t. πŸ™‚

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        • I give you a lot of credit for saying what you just said. Your a very brave woman. So basically earlier on in life you needed a lot of nurturing because you were highly functioning when it came to memory and IQ, but you were hurting in other areas. Your school system and peers didn’t recognize how you were feeling and so you were basically objectified for your high functioning intellual ability while your inner need for love was ignored.

          I’m sorry you endured this kind of pain and suffering.

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        • High intelligence is great, but there is so much more to having a good life than just having a high IQ. I have a high IQ too (it’s about 148–not quite Mensa level but close) but you would never know it looking at my job and my lifestyle. Also as a shy person (IRL) due to having Aspergers and Avoidant PD sometimes people think I am kind of stupid. I am a little scatterbrained but far from stupid. Studies have shown that high self esteem is FAR more important for success and happiness in life than a high IQ. A person with an average IQ but high self esteem (not the same as narcissism!) can be very successful and happy in life, while someone with a genius IQ may flounder if their self esteem was destroyed by narc parents or long term relationships with narcs.
          I am sorry you had to go through all you did, including the mini-stroke. That must have been so scary!

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          • To express one’s feelings has often been seen as a sign of weakness. I think as a society we have become more aware that to be in touch with feelings is key to knowing ourselves. Intelligence has many components. If we existed on IQ only we would be emotionally shut down. The high IQ probably becomes an attraction to the Narcissist. I think Narcissists are attracted to women with a high intellect. And it is probably easier to manipulate us and gaslight into pushing our feelings down.

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            • Possibly. People who only exist for their intellectual ability or high intelligence but have shut down their ability to feel emotions are usually cerebral narcissists or have some other PD like schizoid PD and they come across like robots.

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      • This is true. Self esteem is more important than IQ, so is emotional intelligence. I have a high IQ and not much to show for it. I know plenty of people with average IQs who are much more successful and happy than I am all because they have high self esteem and fewer emotional problems. A high IQ is nice but it’s overrated.

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        • Well also…its a bad economy. Your an excellent writer. I do understand where your coming from. Its been a struggle speaking and performing in front of others. I have combatted my shyness. I use to be terribly shy in my childhood and as a teenager. I think the whole songwriting, musician thing was the best outlet. It builds self esteem. Its uplifting. The arts are expressive and beautiful.

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