Swear words, insults, bad humor… But why do we often turn into a bristly version of ourselves when we’re behind the wheel? Johanna Rozenblum, psychologist, deciphers this mechanism for us.
While you are rather calm and polite in life, everything changes once at the controls of your car: the insults fly, the gesture is more nervous, in short, you are on edge! But what is going on in your brain to get there? Is there a reason to be angry?
Three reasons that explain our reactions
For Johanna Rozenblum, clinical psychologist, the car journey represents a context that can stretch us in several respects.
“Already, it’s a time in the day when we find ourselves alone, as a rule. Therefore, we don’t have to temper our reactions and we have less inhibition. This allows us to react more“ she advances.
But that’s not the only reason:There is also a notion of objective at stake: we take our car to go from point A to point B, which can create impatience, or an exacerbation of emotions when we don’t want to be late. However, we may have done everything possible to arrive on time, if the traffic is denser than usual, there is something that we cannot control…”.
Finally, the third possible effect is that the conduct of others can invoke in us something of the order of respect: “We often have the impression of doing well, and often also the impression that others do not respect the rules, which is sometimes unbearable for us.
Good in your body, good in your head!
Space of freedom or behavior to be corrected?
In the end, if we all do it and it’s a “private” space, should we hold back and try to calm down? Or on the contrary should we keep this moment as an outlet in which we allow ourselves for once to be “impolite”? For our psychologist, it depends on the degree of violence committed:
“If it’s a way of venting your anger, if it only lasts a few seconds and you quickly move on, it can eventually allow us to not keep this feeling of discontent or helplessness, and there’s nothing really serious. If it’s come out in a humorous tone, if you can smile about it afterwards, too!”.
A problem then sets in when a feeling of anger fueled by driving becomes lasting or takes a disproportionate turn:
“If we remain embittered, energized, angry for long minutes, even hours and it tints our journey or the return home in a bad mood, this is not trivial. In this case, we can wonder on this anger, which could reveal an internal tension linked to another problem, at work, in the family or of a relational nature. Ditto if it becomes a huge anger, which degenerates, which makes us get out of the car, even start an argument or a fight. This should lead us to question the emotional state we are in. There is probably something else to settle” she concludes.