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Food & diet

Hunger and aggression, are they connected?

October 1, 2018

Why should a simply hungry person become aggressive? The explanation of the so-called “hangry” (the union of the terms angry, angry, and hungry, hungry) is a complicated emotional response that is caused by a sharing of biology, environmental signals and personality of the individual patient. This is what is stated by a research published by the American Physiological Society. According to the researchers the idea is that the emotion of anger can sometimes simply be caused by a lack of blood glucose. The aggressive reaction to prolonged lack of food is not immediate and there are two basic criteria for determining whether it will contribute to negative emotions or not: context and self-awareness. We talk about it with Agnese Rossi, psychotherapist at Humanitas Gavazzeni.

Emotional hunger and real hunger

“Eating is a complex behavior that not only means eating, but implies a close link between physiological, psychological, social, family, symbolic aspects – said Rossi -. The interaction of all these factors gives rise to our relationship with food, which each of us builds from childhood and that is marked by the perception of hunger and the consequent feeling of satiety. Often, however, we do not eat only in response to the stimulus of physical hunger, but food can assume an immediate consolatory role, can help us alleviate some emotions that we can not recognize or express, can calm states of anxiety or disappointment, can mitigate feelings of anger, can fill moments of boredom that we can not manage otherwise.

In these cases, states of mind such as tension, aggression, agitation, frustration, the sense of emptiness are confused with physical hunger, which in these cases has an emotional origin. Food then allows us to reject an emotional malaise by “eating on it” rather than facing it directly, with the risk of “swallowing” our emotions together with food and leaving them unheard and unresolved”.


The experiment conducted on 400 Americans

To demonstrate this correlation between “hunger” and anger, the researchers conducted two experiments involving more than 400 people in the United States. Depending on the experiment, participants were shown an image designed to induce positive, neutral or negative feelings. An ambiguous image and a Chinese pictogram were then shown. Scientists asked participants to evaluate the pictogram on a seven-point scale from the definition of “pleasant” to the definition of “unpleasant”, while at the same time indicating how hungry they felt. The testers interpreted hunger as being associated with the feeling of unpleasantness and discomfort.

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