Anger versus Rage: The Essential Difference


Anger is a very hot, vibrant force. Traditionally, someone who is prone to bouts of anger is described as being a ‘hot-head, thus emulating the association between anger and heat.

When anger is present our body may feel as if it is heated up. If we are witness to someone expressing anger or rage we may see their face turn red in reflection of the heat of anger coursing through their system.

Surprisingly, the suppression of anger can cause lethargy…


If you have been exposed to episodes of excessive heat, such as too much direct exposure to sun, or excessive hot, humid conditions, you will likely have felt the lethargy and exhaustion that results from exposure to these conditions. It can be hard to find the motivation to pick yourself up from the couch; you want to lie and laze around, you feel sleepy and there is little you want to do.

Since anger is a hot emotion if we are successful in containing anger we may feel lethargy and lack of motivation as if we have been subject to excessive sun exposure.

When the heat of anger is contained, we are continually exposed to excessive heat in our emotional system.

We possess only a limited ability to contain anger fully. Unexpressed anger will build up over time. So much so, that when the anger exceeds the ability to be contained – it explodes.

This is rage.

When anger overflows its containment it will uncontrollably explode. Damage usually results from any kind of uncontrolled explosion. The key word to note here is “uncontrollable.” And here lies the key difference between anger and rage.

Anger is a controllable emotional force. Rage is not controllable. Rage is not controllable because there is too much of it to control.

When Rage rages there is no choice. Rage is making the discernment. Rage is taking whatever action it feels is needed.

The problem is, whatever the direction Rage looks towards it will see red. Not only that, but the rage Rage expresses will likely include feelings towards situations and events relevant to past times anger was felt, but was contained and never expressed.

The person Rage sees as tinged with red then may be someone completely different from the person to whom rage was originally directed at, but it is ‘the someone else’ who gets the brunt of the explosion.

It is like dropping a bomb on a village with the intent of killing a few suspects hiding out in a house and the whole village is leveled. When Rage blows, the response is out of proportion to the situation, and people get hurt.

This is not release. There is no release from Rage.

The person who has raged may feel relief – the relief of carrying less heat around. If there is less heat, you will feel cooler. The cool-headed person is more tolerant, less reactive. People generally feel better from being cool than overly-heated. But this will not last long.


The explosion of rage is like shaking up a fizzy bottle of soda pop with a cork half-stuck in the neck of the bottle. The bottle is shaken and shaken, until the cork eventually pops off and there is an explosion of froth and foam oozing from the neck of the bottle. After the liquid settles and you look inside the bottle, you see there is almost as much pop as there was before, but there is no longer any foam or froth.

Rage is like the froth. It never releases the substantive anger.

Rage at best will release some of the anger fumes that arise from anger – for a while. Anger always remains, and it is just a matter of time before anger builds up again into rage and another explosion occurs.

As long as we are successful in containing anger this cycle will continue.

Click on the links below to read more on anger and rage:

When Anger Becomes Rage

How to Tell If You Are Holding Too Much Anger. 

Creative Ways to Stifle Healthy Anger.

How to Tell If You Are Holding Too Much Anger.


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4 thoughts on “Anger versus Rage: The Essential Difference

  1. It isn’t clear your notions of proper relationship to anger.
    The follow the links suggestion didn’t seem to turn up information on proper relationship

    • Hello Brian, I appreciate your comment.

      It is true that this week’s excerpt focuses more on defining rage rather than anger. Perhaps needs to be reflected in the title. The blogs are excerpts from my forthcoming book and they are currently being presented as they were written in the book. They will be concentrating on the rage more than anger for the next two or three posts following this last one. Once there is sufficient understanding of rage they will turning to a more complete understanding of anger.

      However, the essential difference between anger and rage
      is that with anger there is always a choice of response.
      I am witness to my anger, I have the ultimate say as to where and how anger is to be directed. With rage, I do not have that choice. Because rage results from a congestion of anger over time, it congests to a point where it looks for opportunities for release, usually in ways that are out of proportion to the situation at hand. Rage therefore will carry the agenda and is in charge. With anger, I am in charge and I carry the agenda.

      I hope this helps, Brian. I wish you well.

  2. Timing! The opportunity to relate to the difference between ager and rage is mucho appreciated. I wish I would have had this framework years ago!

  3. Hello all. I find physical activity a great re leaser of anger , so that the rage does not build up too much. Having a good yell in the forest or a long dog walk

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