Emotion dysregulation as an underlying mechanism of impulsive aggression: Reviewing empirical data to inform treatments for veterans who perpetrate violence Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017 Violence can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which in turn is related to perpetration of aggression. Importantly, not all aggression is motivated by the same mechanisms, and understanding the driving force behind the aggression is imperative in order to select treatments that will assist the individual in decreasing the behavior. PTSD is specifically related to impulsive aggression, or aggression that is emotionally charged and uncontrolled, rather than premeditated aggression, which is planned, unemotional, and goal-directed. Emotion regulation, or the ability to recognize emotions, accept them, and control emotion-related behaviors, is related to both PTSD and impulsive aggression. This conceptual paper uses the Catalyst Model to review the literature on PTSD, impulsive aggression, and emotion regulation. Because of their high rates of PTSD, veterans are presented as a demonstration of the relationship between emotion regulation and impulsive aggression. The integrative model can be viewed as an alternative to the traditional model that proposes anger is the primary underlying mechanism of impulsive aggression in adults. Treatment recommendations, such as helping clients develop emotion regulation skills, are offered for providers who are working with individuals who have experienced trauma and who are now perpetrating impulsive aggression.

published proceedings

  • Aggression and Violent Behavior

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Miles, S. R., Sharp, C., Tharp, A. T., Stanford, M. S., Stanley, M., Thompson, K. E., & Kent, T. A.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Miles, Shannon R||Sharp, Carla||Tharp, Andra Teten||Stanford, Matthew S||Stanley, Melinda||Thompson, Karin E||Kent, Thomas A

publication date

  • May 2017