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10 Ways Anger Masks Itself


100425_9513Anger’s ubiquitousness makes it almost banal. The disguises it wears, though, can be surprisingly colorful.

Others sense, sometimes easily, that anger lurks, but the mask-wearer often has a hard time understanding that what he or she is feeling is anger.

Here are the top ten ways anger expresses itself when it is pretending to be something else—or is otherwise in hiding:

(But first, take our poll: Who are YOU angry with?)

1. Snobbishness, Snootiness Think professional critics, pundits, and all-around put-downers in the arts, politics, and other realms who have made a career out of anger.

2. Sarcasm See above, plus some comics/comedians.

3. Frustration Lucy vs. Charlie Brown and the football.

4. Resentment Can take a variety of forms, from dirty looks to all-out vengeance.

5. Self-pity Woe is me. Everyone takes advantage of me. Why would so and so do xyz to poor little me? Why does nothing ever go right?

6. Depression and Sadness No, not all depression has roots in anger. But some does. Sadness can be sparked into life by existential anger at one’s situation.

7. Impatience Hurry up! You’re taking too long. I’m going to have to cut in line. Honk my horn. Push you out of my way. I’m really, really busy. I’m busier and more important than…

8. Arrogance and Entitlement Arrogance and Entitlement can take snobby, snooty forms, they can be sarcastic, and they are often impatient, but they are something more. Arrogance and entitlement are based in a profound, all-pervading belief that self is more important than other. Sick, perhaps. Even lacking in conscience (narcissisistic personality disorder, anti-social personality disorder) but even though one knows the difference between right and wrong one doesn’t think the world’s rules apply to self. Arrogance and entitlement come from anger—think about it.

9. Cynicism The world is horrible. It is a dark place. Everyone is rotten, maybe even evil. There is no innocence. Cynicism can be anger at one’s own feelings of shattered innocence. Cynics don’t want everyone else to be cynical, too, as much as they want to be the one to tell the bad news: Life stinks.

10. Guilt Guilt can be anger at self, well-disguised or not. Also, some people say they feel guilty when what they really feel is anger. When anger is believed to be an unacceptable feeling, such as anger towards a parent or spouse, it gets labeled guilt.”I feel so guilty I don’t spend more time with mom.”


11. Self-righteousness Politicians, for starters. Some religious figures, especially those who force conversions or else.


Other Therapy Soup “Anger” Posts:

10 Beliefs About Anger which discusses beliefs you, your therapist, and the guy next door may share about anger.

When 2 Wrongs Make A Right which asks (and tries to answer) the question, “Is it okay to give in for the sake of peace? Is this cowardly? Manipulative? Practical? Loving? We believe that: Even some of the most fractured relationships can improve when only one person is doing the initial peace-work.

There are more we haven’t listed, so go ahead and browse…

At PsychCentral’s 360 Degrees of Mindful Living blog, Pavel Somov shares some thoughts on anger.


10 Ways Anger Masks Itself

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2013). 10 Ways Anger Masks Itself. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Apr 2013
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