Is there any disease that prevents a person from being angry? As a reference, the resection of the amygdala reduces feelings of fear.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for including references (of course you have a grace period ;p). Could you also include what it is that you found out in those references (why they are relevant?). Typically, you would write what you learned there, and explain why it does not answer your question (either clarification, or something unanswered in the source), which thus fully motivates your question. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


Short answer
Brain damage is typically associated with increased expression of anger and aggressive behavior. I wasn't able to find any paper reporting lack of anger expression after brain damage. Great question!

Assuming you are after symptoms associated with brain damage, I have put my efforts into writing up an answer on brain trauma and anger. To strat with your example of the amygdala - indeed, removal of the amygdala (amygdalectomy) has been used to treat extreme feelings fear. Damage to the amygdala reults in deficits in facial emotion recognition. Specifically they have impaired recognition of expressions of fear and guilt and trustworthiness. These findings suggest that the amygdala has a critical role in face emotion processing (Elliott et al., 2011).

Anger is thought to be mediated by the medial amygdaloidal areas that connect to the medial hypothalamus via the stria terminalis, and from there to the dorsal half of the periaqueductal gray. Aggression (the expression of anger) evoked by stimulation of the amygdala is dependent on the functional integrity of the medial hypothalamus and the periaqueductal gray. However, aggression evoked by stimulation of the periaqueductal gray is not dependent on the functional integrity of the amygdala. The amygdala-hypothalamus-periaqueductal gray is thought to mediate reactive aggression (Blair, 2013).

Hence, it seems that a likely candidate for the obliteration of feelings of anger is the periaqueductal gray. Does damage or removal of this structure reduces feelings of anger? Lesions in this area of the brain have been associated with loss of speech in humans (Esposito et al, 1999), reduced fear in rats (Lonstein & Stern, 1997), and upon complete destruction it resulted in a limp inertness in cats (Bailey & Davis, 1943). The Lonstein & Stern (1997) paper reports that

[Periaqueductal gray] lesioned rats attacked a strange male twice as often as controls did, which is suggestive of reduced fearfulness. These results extend the known roles of the PAG [periaqueductal gray] in [] defensive behaviors.

Hence, removal of PAG actually increases aggressive behavior (reduces fear), rather than decreasing aggressive behavior!

In all, I wasn't able to find any study that reports on brain damage that results in a reduction of anger expression. Indeed, brain damage is often related to increased feelings of anger and there the track record is extensive

- Bailey & Davis, *Proc Soc Exp Biol Med (1942); 51: 305-6
- Blair, Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci (2012); 3(1): 65–74
- Elliott et al., Neuropsychopharmacology (2011); 36(1): 153–82
- Esposito et all., NeuroReport (1999); 10(4): 681–5
- Lonstein & Stern, J Neurosci (1997); 17(9): 3364-78

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the quick answer! However if you could not find the relevant article, I may assume that there is almost no paper on it... Anyway, thanks to you, I became more aware of the relationship between brain damage and anger. I will wait a little longer and accept your answer. $\endgroup$ Apr 10, 2018 at 12:54

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