From Thursday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Thursday, Sep. 03, 2009 07:02AM EDT
Experts say that all it takes is a raised middle finger to trigger the brain's "rage system," which shuts down rational decision-making and activates the "fight or flight" response, sending adrenalin pulsing through the bloodstream and preparing limbs for battle.
When people experience normal anger, they feel frustrated, but can still weigh pros and cons and solve problems.
When they are enraged, they become irrational, lashing out at anyone around them, including those they love, said anger expert Ron Potter-Efron, who has authored half a dozen books on the subject, including one titled Rage. Many report feeling as though their bodies have been taken over. In extreme states, they may black out and forget what they did.
"It overpowers the brain and literally shuts down the sensory systems and the power of reason," said W. Doyle Gentry, author of Anger Management for Dummies and founding editor of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. "You are literally out of your mind," he said.
People with a reputation for losing their tempers and those who are easily stressed and impulsive are most at risk, Dr. Gentry said.
Scientists cannot say precisely what is happening inside the brain to cause these changes. But Washington State University neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp has identified what he has called the "RAGE system," which centres on the amygdala, the emotion-centre of the brain.
What makes rage so dangerous, he said, is that this system works in a "see-saw balance" with the neocortex - the cognitive, rational decision-making part of the brain - so that, when the emotion-based rage system is triggered, the neocortex shuts down, creating a toxic potential for unchecked violence.
Drugs like alcohol, which limit inhibition, add poison to the brew, said University of Toronto Scarborough neuroscience professor Michael Inzlicht.
York University's David Wiesenthal is one of the country's leading experts on road rage. He said that being behind the wheel in this state can be especially deadly.
Normally, when people are faced with life-altering decisions, from marriage to how to treat a disease, they have time to step back and rationally consider their options, he said.
But on the road, in the heat of the moment, they don't have the time or cognitive ability to take into account potential consequences, from injuring themselves or others to winding up in jail.
"Someone's life can take a tremendous turn in a few moments," Dr. Wiesenthal said.
When a person becomes enraged, the brain's higher level rational thinking functions, located in the prefrontal cortex, are suppressed. At the same time, the primitive parts of the brain that control emotion, including the amygdala, take over. At the very moment when our decisions may matter most, our ability to think rationally is diminished.
Once the brain's " rage system" is activated, it sends adrenalin and other stress hormones through the body, triggering the nervous system's " fight or flight" response.
Possible physical symptoms include:
Headaches and exhaustion often occur after an episode
Increased heart rate and cardiac output, constricted/ dilated blood vessels, increased blood flow to the muscles
Increased blood glucose concentration
Relaxed intestinal and bladder muscles
Increased air flow in and out of the lungs
Dilation of the pupils, tunnel vision
Tremors or shaking
Non-emergency body systems, such as digestion, are suppressed
TRISH McALASTER / THE GLOBE AND MAIL
SOURCE: BRITANNICA. COM
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Bryant's publicity machine pulled out all the stops and went ahead at warp
speed, posting on the internet, very cleverly designed posts. There are not just
ordinary posts, they are just far to sophisticated to be anything genuine.
The same publicity machine then poured in thousands of hits of disagreement or agreement to give an impression of support for Bryant in the "court of public opinion".
It is Bryant's incredible use of a publicity machine, that begs questions.
WHO is the person administrating the publicity machine on behalf of Michael Bryant?
Could this be his political connections?
Just who can get on the phone call and have a team of expert writers with time to spare to bang away on internet forums such as the Globe and Mail and in particular the CBC News Forums?
There are very large number of people who would like to extend a middle finger to Michael Bryant and those who represent an extremely corrupt and dysfunctional Justice System.
Under Michael, Bryant, the Male Gender Apartheid got worse, he ignored obvious serious complaints that did not suit his political agenda, that of course has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence of the charges. The reality is that the odds of such a politically correct person being convicted of any crime, regardless of the evidence, is entirely remote.
The odds of Mr. Bryant spending anything other than a token amount of time under , at best, house arrest, is again, entirely remote.
If you are rich, influential, hang out in the right social circles, show political correctness, justice is brought and denied to those who don't have money status or influence.
Such is the corrupt state of the Ontario Justice System.
The number of speculative posts, all alluding defenses for Michael Bryant is
A M A Z I N G.
So is the number of "disapprovals" of any post that is not favourable to the Incredible Publicity Machine that has sprung to life in support of the cause of very public trial of public opinion of Michael Bryant.
Readers should take note of just how easy it is for one person, to attempt to influence so many so quickly by using a team of internet posters whose prolific posts and hits of approval/ disapproval show a high level of ability.
We have yet to learn who is behind that publicity machine.
Michael Bryant now will be on the most positive receiving end of an Ontario
Justice System designed and operated by the Cartel to make the rich richer and
the poor, criminals or in jail simply because, they could not afford to pay the
costs of Justice as carefully constructed with all its rules, to deny justice to
anyone who "can't afford to pay the Cartel"
Spare a thought for Peter Roscoe, who unable to get a trial, who deprived of all legal rights, including the right to make an answer and defense, including the right to go to court and enforce an order for access to his son, made a stupid remark about using a "Rusty can opener" , to shall we say, get the attention of his case, to the Attorney General, Michael Bryant. His comment was very obviously, an impossible act, it was equally obviously, not a real threat other than an excuse to get the attention of the Attorney General.
Mr. Roscoe was charged and convicted of threatening to kill Mr. Michael Bryant, using a "rusty can opener".
Peter Roscoe has done thousands of hours of research regarding Judicial Bias and you can see it all at
That's Ontario Justice for you. One Rule for the rich and one to make the poor criminals without a trial or any legal rights.
Amazing to watch Navigator and who ever else has been "engaged or retained"
to "assist Bryan".
From slapping up large number of posts, to making the thumbs up v the thumbs down "appear" to the right way, they have now gone to "providing information" , directly and probably, indirectly, to those whose pens make up the articles.
Since the articles appeared that mentioned his PR specialists, changes keep happening.
Its like their is a battle going on with a daily battle plan.
Till now, apparently, their fluid adaptable battle plan does not include weekends, apparently they still love their weekends.
You get the sense that the commander in chief of this unprecedented PR operation has give the order for everyone to shut up and ride for a while on the damage control.
There is no coincidence in that it all sounds like the echo's of Brian Mulroney.