A few decades back, I posted on ways a face can express the emotions sadness and agony, suggesting there’s a great wide world for the writer beyond descriptions of crooked eyebrows. Paul Ekman, in his book Emotions Revealed, gives us a lot of think about when considering yet another powerful mood, anger.
Before I get to facial changes, I want to touch on what’s behind anger so we know when to write it. Warning: This is a long post. (Kathleen’s going to kill me.) I’ll ask you to humor the psych major in me, but if you really only want the skinny on faces, skip to the end! Grumble, grumble, grumble…
How anger starts. Anger can kick off when we’re feeling frustrated, rejected, disappointed, when we’ve been offended, attacked or the recipient of someone else’s anger. Everyone has different thresholds, but when anger happens, it’s because someone’s personal line has been crossed.
The goal of anger is to gain some control over a situation or to retaliate or punish, and there are almost always warning signs in a person’s expression and action. Says Eckman,
It is the person who harms without anger who is not understandable, and who is often seen as truly frightening.
(Bring to mind the visage of people convicted of heinous crimes who barely blink when their terror is laid before them? They are scary!)
How anger evolves. [Read more…]