What is stress? Is all stress bad for us? What is the connection between stress and anger? How does anger trigger sexual acting out? These are important questions to answer.
First, what is stress? Stress is the body’s natural reaction to demanding situations. Here’s how the dictionary defines it: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. During stress response, your heart begins to race, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. You’ve gotten ready to act. It is how you protect yourself. So stress is our reaction to being threatened. Adrenalin, the “fight or flight” drug, is secreted by the adrenal glands when we are stressed so we are ready to fight or run. We are wired to handle short-term stress but with long-term, chronic stress our bodies begin to break down. WebMD.com says symptoms that we are overly-stressed include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
All stress is not bad stress. Some stress is good stress (psychologists call this “eustress” while bad stress is called “distress”). Good stress is the natural tension or pressure that enables us to perform our best. In theater it is often referred to as having “butterflies” in the stomach and pushes the performer to do their very best. Bad stress, on the other hand, debilitates us pushing us to become irritable and angry.
What’s the connection between stress and anger? Bad stress is a primary factor in anger and anger is one of the six “triggers” for sexual addiction: hurting, angry, lonely, tired, bored, curious. Stress causes us to become angry at others, ourselves, or God. When we are stressed we often don’t think rationally or logically. When we are stressed we operate on the basis of our feelings and we permit feelings to be in charge. When stressed we are easily angered.
Anger triggers sexual acting out. Why? Because we don’t like the feeling of being angry or out-of-control so we use sex as a way to medicate those feelings, numb our anger, and elevate positive endorphins in the body. When we view porn and masturbate we get a buzz, as endorphins are released in the central nervous system and dopamine is secreted in the brain. WebMD.com says endorphins, “Generally speaking, endorphins are thought to act as blockers of the transmission of pain signals and also can produce a euphoric feeling exactly like opiates.” Concerning dopamine, Wikipedia says, “In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity. Other brain dopamine systems are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of several other important hormones.” All of that to say that stress triggers anger/rage which triggers sexual acting out to ameliorate the bad feelings of being angry. Thus ongoing anger is a key factor in sexual addiction and stress causes anger. So if the bad stress level is lowered through better coping strategies the frequency and intensity of anger will be lowered. If anger is lowered the need to sexually act out is decreased.
Finally, what stresses us out? Here are the eight most common stressors:
- Marriage (or, if single, singlehood)
- Family (parents, in-laws, children, siblings)
Learning to live in a high-stress world without growing angry,