Thursday, April 27, 2006

Do Some People Literally See Red When They're Angry?

A couple of years ago, Russ Hurlburt and I gave a woman a random beeper to carry around for six days, spread out over a month or two. When the beep went off, she was to note whatever her "inner experience" was at the last undisturbed moment prior to the beep. After collecting several samples, she came into Russ's lab and we jointly interviewed her about those sampled experiences -- Russ from the point of view of several decades as a practitioner of this method of learning about people's stream of conscious experience, I as a pessimist about reports of one's conscious experience.

I found these interviews immensely useful in thinking about the issues involved in both the epistemology and the nature of conscious experience. Russ and I are currently working on a book manuscript based on these interviews.

To give you a flavor of the kinds of issues that arise, the woman we interviewed claimed that immediately prior to one of the beeps she experienced a "rosy-yellow glow" associated with the humor of a thought she was having. She said that she literally experienced this color at the sampled moment, and she had a sense that this was not at all atypical of her emotional experience.

Now, to me, this report was surprising. Some people report synaesthesia of, say, color with number -- claiming literally to see a particular color when they view or think about a particular number (e.g., green with 4) -- but this is rather rare, and I hadn't heard much discussion of literal color experiences attending emotion. However, Russ reminded me that people often claim to "see red" when they're angry. Indeed, he has had people claim to literally "see red" or feel "blue" when the beeper catches them in one of those moods. He finds such reports credible.

So: Do some people literally "see red" when they're angry? If you're familiar with my pessimism about experiential reports, you'll know that I'm very wary about such claims. So I wonder if there's some way to verify or disprove them, without relying entirely on subjective report. Suggestions welcomed!

One thing that occurred to me was that if some people literally see red when they're angry, there may be some basic physiological reason for that. If so, it may be a cross-cultural phenomenon, and we might see traces of the red-anger association in other languages. So I informally polled some acquaintances whose native tongue was not English. The poll did not support this hypothesis. In German, I'm told, "rotsehen" (lit. to see red) does mean to be enraged, but German is so linguistically close there may be a common etymological relationship to the English phrase. In no other language of the ten or so polled could I find evidence of an association between red and anger.

Of course, it may be that if some people literally see red when they're angry, that association is culturally derived. Then the lack of cross-cultural corroboration is irrelevant.

113 comments:

The Knave said...

I hope you do read the comments since it has been a few months since you posted this entry.

In about 1974 my older sister and I got into a fight. We had a rather contentious relationship up until then, she being just over a year older than I. I would be happy to relate more of the details should you be interested but I remember losing my temper and I felt a rage wash over me. All of a sudden it was as though I had put on a pair of rose tinted contact lenses. Everything was colored in red. As I ran after her it felt as though my rational mind had taken a back seat and I was observing myself acting on pure instinct with the single minded intention of killing her. I never before or since have felt so physically coordinated and strong.

Over the years I have asked various people in the fields of psychology and psychiatry their opinion. I generally start by asking them what they think the phrase "seeing red" means. I have never had any of them respond as though they have experienced it themselves. I have spoken with a few people who I believe have had the experience. As I read your post I am curious if there might be an ethnic/genetic component as well. If that is the case there would not be a common phrase in other language groups.

I may have had one other experience with "seeing red" a few years later (summer of '78) but the event occurred at night and I was heavily intoxicated. I would love to see someone be able to explain what I experienced.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Knave! I think that's exactly the kind of thing Russ has in mind. I can't say I've experienced it myself, though I maybe I have. There's something about that description that seems plausible and familiar.

I'd be interested in more data about language groups. In informal asking around, about the phrase "seeing red" in other languages, meaning enraged, I found: German, yes. Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian (I think), French (I think), and one Indian-subcontinent language (I forget which), no. Maybe I asked about one or two other languages as well.

Anonymous said...

I found this site looking for answers...I have literally seen red once in my life. The situations were extremely stressful to say the least, and it was when I was 16 (23 now). I blinked, and everything turned red. Blinked again within a second, and it was gone. It was like if you wore red glasses, everything just red tinted. I would swear on unborn children, and that I would burn in hell if I am not genuine in stating this. (and I am a Christian, but I'm not lying so I need not fear)

I had an extremely tough childhood since 13 til I was old enough to get out on my own by 19. I never wanted to drink or do drugs. I had great ambitions of losing my virginity to my first love, and I did. When I finally realized it was really over, and my heart was broken in a harsh/secret way for no reason, in that instant I saw red. I was merely naive though I came to realize after alot of literal heartache. I can only attribute it to a psychological reason. A culmination of stress/pain no one that age should have to endure, and then my heart crushed by the only person I had to ice off the cake. Something just snapped in that instant. It's almost frightening to realize what our subconscious may be capable of under such dire situations. Thats when you let go of the fact your a human being in society, and rational thought is replaced by basic primal instinct.

People forget we're merely sophisticated beasts...while some just choose not to accept that reality. Survival is the dominant instinct next to mating, and some adapt stronger than normal. They choose to survive, or they're forced to survive, or die. Everyone that reads this would amaze themselves of what they're capable when instinct takes the drivers seat.

Anonymous said...

My apologies (I'm the anonymous above this that really saw red) I'm in a hurry and do not have time to setup an account to be reached, but if you would like to contact me to get some more info about me or whatever questions you have to pick my brain with. My email is chidor1@yahoo.com

Feel free to inquire. I guarentee I am legit in my statement, and I'll continue searching for anyone else that has experienced this legitimately. People who say "maybe" obviously have not. It's not an experience you forget or become hazy thinking back upon no matter how many years have passed. Most people vividly recall horrible nightmares they've had, right? I do, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that logic.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the details on that, anonymous! It would be very interesting if there were a physiological explanation. I wonder....

Alejandro said...

In Spanish there is an expression "verlo todo rojo" (= "to see everything red") used to describe an explosion of fury and violence. It is probably less common than "seeing red" is in English, but the connection exists.

laro said...

I know it's been about a year since the entry was posted but...

Is it possible that there's a (more) physiological rather than psychological explanation for this phenomenon?

I've just finished a biopsychology class where we learned a bit about vision. Before light reaches the photoreceptors on the retina, it passes through overlying blood vessels. We don't see them because the receptor cells habituate to them and are used to receiving less light (and perhaps a longer wavelength?). However, if you hold a light up to the side of your eyes, apparently you can see them. (I'm still planning to find a flashlight and try it out.)

Anyway, my thought is this: what if the changes the body undergoes during extreme rage or anger cause the blood vessels in the eyes to swell, and the receptor cells to respond to this by detecting red? In support of this, the sympathetic nervous system is thought to respond in fight/flight situations by signaling the heart to pump faster, among other things. So it is, as far as I'm aware, probable that the blood vessels in the eyes would be affected.

This is also something that could be tested, I think -- though probably using equipment more readily available in a hospital. If one could measure changes in the eye's blood vessels, and correlated this with phenomenal accounts of seeing red, (even in cases that did not involve rage) I think this would serve as good evidence that some people really do see red when they're angry.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

That's an interesting idea, laro! If that's right, I'd think it wouldn't vary cross-culturally, and then you might (maybe) see a cross-cultural association of anger and seeing red....

Andrew said...

Ok, where do I begin. I am a flooring contractor in Florida, who works on high rise condos. It all began a few years back when I started using cocaine. I wanted to stop, but the associations and people that aggravated my psyche continued to anger me. One night, I couldn't get these two people out of my vehicle, they would continue to harass me to drive them around looking for drug dealers in Sanford, FL's massive crack cocaine community. They were fidgety and restless. They were looking all around in the back seats, hopping all over the place while I was driving. Anyone familiar with this type knows how angry you can become when you are ready to call it a night. I just snapped. I stopped the car dead in the middle of 17-92, a very busy U.S. highway, even in the middle of the night. I got out while cars were honking horns and flying by, opened the back doors, and grabbed each individual one at a time and through them right out of my car. It is surprising how much adrenaline and power one has, when you are standing ground and others are sitting. Feet have a lot to do with your stance obviously. I managed to grab the arm of the first one (a guy) and just hurled him off into the sidewalk. The girl started to move towards the other side, and I grabbed her and threw her out too right into an open lane of traffic that had stopped behind us. I had absolutely nothing on my mind but my own will. I closed the doors quickly hopped back in and started driving. I closed my eyes to take a breath, and sighed a major steam of air, and saw plainly, what can only be described as a red haze all throughout my eyelids. It radiated and got brighter and brighter. I opened my eyes and still saw the red. It was accompanied with other emotions, that to this day, I cannot explain. It was like God was warning me to slow down. Then, in an amazing coincidence, I stopped at a 7-11 on my way back to Longwood, and walked in to get a beer, and there was a song on the radio inside. "So lay down. The threat is real. Seeing red again, seeing red again"... I now know this is a band called Chevelle. But that was just too damn coincidental to not be a message from God.

kingdomproclaimer@gmail.com

Feel free to contact me. Since this event occurred at age 28 to me, in 2002 or 3, I have become an avid bible reader, and believer in the God described in that book. Prior to that event I was agnostic at best. I don't have a particular religion, but I know the future holds more for us then some grim non existence. There must be a change to this mad world.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for your story, Andrew. That's very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Found your blog looking for other people who have this same experience. I have had it also when I was young and intoxicated at a Frat party. It was a time in my life when my personal boundaries were few and I was full of myself. One of my cousins frat brothers made a remark about girls from Boca (which I was) that we were all bitches. Because I am short I grabbed a chair and immediately stood above his nose and then it happened a red glow a surge of addrenaline and my mouth just let him have it. Needless to say my poor cousin had to calm me down. I am only 5'2" and yet I was ready to throw down with this much larger guy all for a stupid comment. Seems a certain amount of anger mixed with a large amount of pride equals lots of red. It hasn't happened since then but I have also grown up a lot. But I was blinded in that moment I opened my eyes but I could see anything but red not like red lens just glowing red. I have a friend now who is rageing and she says how she needs anger management and I was looking this up for her to help her get away from that type of rage that controls. I think for people who are better in control of their life or emotions this extreme may not happen to them-but that is just a thought and my story hope it helps. I have heard that it is related to the blood vessels though.

Anonymous said...

In norway, we have the expression "å se rødt" which directly translates to "to see red". It's used to describe a surge of rage and fury, and is very common. Norwegian is close to German though, so I guess it cloud stem from the germanic language group as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I found this page searching for "see red angry." I have, in fact, often experienced this very real, very visceral occurrence. I was a very hot-headed boy and youth (number seven in a family of eight boys, so I learned early to (1) feel terribly oppressed and (2) lash-out foolishly fast). I lost my temper far too often and got into fights far too often (always with those larger and more powerful than I -- see supra family dynamic -- thus, usually lost those fracases). I am now a well-respected professional (I left a long trial and appellate practice for the bench two years ago), and a sober, calm fellow. Outside. Inside, I still very occasionally rage at some small (or not-so-small) slight, and though I am an expert at hiding emotion (read: anal repressive), I still see red accompanied -- as it always has been -- by a pounding, rushing noise in my ears. The "seeing red/hearing 'rushing water'(as it were)" experience has been constant, and descends from the crown of my head to my chest where my breathing and pulse quicken. Classic (almost comically classic) fight-or-flight stuff, huh?. Although I did not get the physiological explanation I assumed existed, I thought I could add to the anecdotal data you may still be compiling. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

I, too was looking for answers as to why this happened to me one night. I did a Google search for "see red anger" Here is what happened to me. I had moved to Florida for health reasons 13 years ago. I never really fit in or could find a girlfriend I was willing to settle down with. One trip back to my hometown, I met someone. We developed a long distance relationship. We fell in love and she agreed to move down so we could be together. Then, one night we were out and had a couple of beers, something we had done countless times. She told me that she thought my health issues were bullshit. When I heard this, I knew she was backing out of moving down. Now, I am the definition of a mellow person, really. But at that moment I got so mad, that I felt like throwing my chair at her. I had to remove myself from the situation immediately, so I promptly yelled something and left. As I exited the bar, about 10 seconds later and entered the street, I literally saw red. Like the others described, it was as if I was wearing blood red lensed glasses. It didn't last long, maybe 15-20 seconds. It was a bit surreal. Seeing red in anger is no myth.

Crystal said...

Like the other anonymous people here I found this via google search because I have a very vivid memory of literally seeing red.
I was about six and had stepped on a bunch of glass but tried to hide it, so my mom didn't notice until I was limping around a few weeks later. By that time my foot was swollen and infected and skin had grown over the glass. I had to go to the doctor to get it cut it. My memory is of laying face down on the table, being held down by two men, sweating and trying to get free. In my memory, I assumed that there was just a strong red light on in the room because everything was RED, not just a little red, completely red. However I mentioned this to my mom recently and she said that it was a regular, brightly lit clinic room.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Neat stories. Thanks, everyone! I have a comments feed, so don't feel that comments like this on old posts simply go into the vapor!

33/6 JoelGaddis 14 said...

this happens to me often. when i get really angry, i will see red, but i dont think its a psychological thing, because others have told me my eyes fill with red, like i burst a blood vessel or something. i recently learned this is my eyes filling with blood, (also like i burst a blood vessel) but i still dont know why. However, i always know when this happens its time to go somewhere and cool off fast, because if i dont, i will black out and have no control or memory of my actions while blacked out. this has happened twice (completely blacking out) and both times i hurt the person i was mad at badly... the first time i was completely sraight and sober, the second time i had had a few beers and a joint or two. also, the first time it built slowly, maybe over 10 or 15 minutes, then i blacked out, and snapped. but the second time, a guy pulled a gun on a friend, and i saw red instantly and headed outside. this all happened in about 30 seconds, the time it took to go from the window to the front yard. they say the guy shot at me twice and i never flinched or slowed down, and i remember none of this! all i remember is starting for the door. they told me i looked like evil incarnate, i guess because of my eyes, lol. any ideas or comments would be appreciated. oh and it didnt start until i was about 16.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Yikes! Your eyes will not literally fill with blood, though. But that isn't to say that there's no physiologically change having to do with blood that affects your vision.

Regarding blacking out: I wonder whether it's loss of consciousness or loss of memory.

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, a supposed "friend" made a play for my husband right in front of me...just stuck her hand down his shirt and started pushing up to him. (He was drunk, so didn't do anything about it.)

I invited her out into the hall to discuss it. I was shaking with rage, and when she said it would be good to share him, I saw red.

It was as if someone had popped a red cellophane sheet over my sight. It was amazing. And the adrenaline rush...
I grabbed her, threw her down a flight of stairs, leaped over the bannister after her like Errol Flynn and began punching the hell out of her.

Still seeing red. Then, just as I wound up for the big smashface finale, it was as if someone pulled my arm back and wouldn't let me punch her senseless.

The red vanished, and I was suddenly so tired I could hardly stand.

I'd never been so angry in my life, and haven't been since. But man, seeing red, that was one of the realest moments of my life.

And I'm not sorry.

Anonymous said...

Many years ago when my two daughters were still children I walked in their bedroom, while they were quarreling, they were under 10 yrs old at the time. My oldest daughter had taken the ladder of the bunk bed, and brought it down over her sister, to deliberately hit her, miraculously my youngest was not hurt as the ladder just came down over her body missing hitting her. I was so enraged at what my oldest daughter had done, that I grabbed her and tried to spank her, for some reason I literally 'saw red,', but when I tried to hit her it felt as though there was a rubber cushion stopping my hand. I was so horrified at what I had almost done, that I immediately phoned a friend to tell her what had happened. I realized that day that the saying 'seeing red' is a physiological thing, I cannot explain it any other way. I have never experienced it, or such rage again.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Wow, interesting that the experiences of the last two anonymous posters should be so similar.

If it is physiological, I wonder what the mechanism could be...?

Anonymous said...

I hope you're still getting something out of these stories. I'll tell mine just to add to the pool of knowledge. I should point out that I do have synaethesia. Anyhow, I have "seen red" in anger a few times. The first time I can recall, I was a very young substitute teacher with a class full of high school seniors. They were acting horribly, and when one kid said a semi-pornographic thing to me I heard a "pop" and closed my eyes. My field of vision with my eyes closed was bright red and for an instant after I opened them it was a deep crimson. My mind seemed to be in a kind of holding pattern. I was only able to process fury and intense heat behind my eyes and in my face, and a rushing noise in my ears. My chest felt incredibly heavy and I had to force myself to breathe. In the next instant - as soon as the red was gone - I took a quick breath and shouted at the kid, pretty loudly. I am not sure if the moment of seeing red felt longer than it actually was or whether it was just a flash. I don't have any idea why it made me so angry.

In more recent years, I have gotten the pop and rush, along with red flash, but not the more extended "crimson vision."

I am told that I am very easy-going - maybe too much so. Perhaps these mini-flashes are just some neurological tic...or maybe I have a secret wellspring of fury!

Anonymous said...

When I was 15 yrs. old. I lived alone with my alcoholic parent.I ran out to the car quickly in my bare feet to just grab something and when I got back to the door the door was locked and I could see my parent on their hands and knees, very drunk, beating my little innocent puppy against the wall. I was standing on ice because it was winter and I just freaked out because my parent toally had me zoned out. All of a sudden - it was like I was looking through a blood red colored balloon. I became totally enraged and I put my fist through the window on the door to let myself in to rescue my little dog. I still have scars to prove my rage but I always wondered why I saw red for about 15 sec. I never did get angry like that in my life again but it was absolutely a pivital point in my relationship with my parent. I left home after that and we never ever were close again. It was like the emotion was so extremely hard to feel - I cut off the love, the trust, and respect that I had for my parent in the exact moment when I saw red. I did not realize that though until my therapist brought it to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm I had an experience this evening with seeing red.The format is a bit different but I would like to share as I cannot sleep with it on my mind and am glad to find that 23 people have comments about it here.
So here I am. I had to leave work today because I was not in a state to greet customers. Six stiches after an accidental knife cut recently. Then a blow out with my step mother lasting two days and fighting with my husband and the world as a result of my anger towards her.
I lost my real mom to suicide young and have never gotten along with my step mom. I was having intense thoughts even wishing she would vanish to put it nicely. The drama is unimportant but it involves some hurtful control issues on her part. I was not really in control of the intensity of my anger in this case. After a lot of rage and crying today I was sitting on my bed checked out in a blank stare thinking of it all. For a split second a pile of laundry looked like it was in a firey hot red cage. I saw this at about 3 o clock (slightly to the corner of my vision). I do have a very imaginative brain but cannot help to feel that my state of anger caused this. How strange ... or maybe not...

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have also actually physically seen red.
When I was around 23, my boyfriend slapped me in the face. When he did that, it was like red paint spilling down to cover my normal vision, coming from the top down. Then, I don't remember anything until I came out of my rage. When I "came out of it", my boyfriend had my wrists screaming "it's me! it's me!". I had really scard the crap out of him..... He said I attacked him and was trying to kill him, I have absolutely no recollection of doing anything.
It's real folks. I promise.

Anonymous said...

Yikes.

I saw green once. Ran my bike into the back of a parked car (don't ask). Everything went green. Didn't last long.

Anonymous said...

I am currently having very strange sensations of seeing red everytime I open my eyes after sleeping. I cannot find any information about it. Only this website. I recently gave birth. The pregnancy was hard, and my baby had problems at birth and was hospitalized for the first week of his life. But I do not feel any anger. Just exhaustion. This is what happens: I go to sleep and when I wake during the night and first look around light colored things look reddish to me. The walls and my baby both do. After about a minute, my vision returns to normal. This has been happening since I gave birth 7 weeks ago. I almost panicked a few minutes ago when I woke up and looked at my baby. I thought he was an abnormal shade of red and jumped to check on him. He was fine and within a minute he looked normal again. I do sleep with some light on in my room so I can see to take care of the baby when he awakens to feed. But it is a plain 1 watt bulb with no color to it and the light cover is also plain white. I wish I could find out what is wrong with me. Maybe my eyes are bloodshot and I don't know it? Can things look red through bloodshot eyes? Thanks- Heather

Anonymous said...

I mistyped before, the light in my room is a 15 watt bulb. Thanks- Heather

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Hi Heather: Things do not generally look red through bloodshot eyes. People do describe all kinds of visual and auditory experiences, right before or after sleeping, including sometimes mild hallucinations. (Sometimes these phenomena are called "hypnagogic" and "hynpopompic".) I would not be concerned as long as the effect does not persist long or become more extreme over time.

Anonymous said...

Well, interesting I came across this site..

Several years ago (I was 13) a friend of mine and I were playing in a park. 3 older boys came up to us looking for trouble. I am a very laid back, nonconfrontational kind of guy, but my friend is somewhat of a loudmouth. Long story short, the 3 older kids had been taking turns punching my friend in the stomach. At one point I started to see red, and kind of tunnel vision, then I blacked out. When I came to, it was just my friend there, and he had told me I had completely pummeled the 3 other boys (all bigger than I) fairly badly..

I had just remembered this after reading some of the posts here, due to researching just now the symptoms I had just encountered today.

A female coworker was telling me about a man here that has been harassing her "harmlessly". I was going to confront him, when my vision went red and got the same tunnel vision. I decided to go cool off instead of confront the man. He will be spoken to by our HR department.

So yeah...

But does anyone have more than stories? I am trying unsuccessfully to find out what causes this 'seeing red' and blacking out phenomena..

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I'd definitely be interested in hearing more, too -- especially a theoretical explanation!

arnold Trehub said...

Looks like a temporal lobe epileptic episode. Aura, blackout, and goal-directed motor activity. No post-episode memory of behavior.

Sibyl said...

I came across this blog when I was looking for some answers to the term "seeing red". I want to share my experience with you because I was born and raised in Germany and German was my first language.
In about 1982 I had returned to Germany after a divorce and I went to a discothec in Germany with my brothers. One of my brothers apparently was making eyes at a girl whose brother or boyfriend didn't approve of this and he came over to our table and started a fight and hit my brother over the head with a bottle. When the situation became more dangerous, I remember seeing everything in a red color. I can't really say that I was angry,- actually frightened describes it much better.
This "seeing red" happened to me another time when I was in a dangerous situation. If you are interested to hear more, let me know.

Anonymous said...

I was enraged by a comment made to me which seemed totaly unjust , I had to go outside to cool off and it was then that I realised that every time I blinked, my vision was bright red which I had never knowingly experienced before. It was only visible when the eyes were closed and I have been practising present moment awareness which helped me analyse the situation. I was in the shade so it was nothing to do with sunshine or daylight...was it extra blood pressure?

André Graça said...

Hello everyone I am a 16 year old male from Portugal ,so my English will not be that good .Here in Portugal seeing red means "ver vermelho" and I don´t know any expression that connects seeing red with being angry.
I'll share a story that happened to me about two months ago. I'm a social person ,I got in about 4-5 fights in my whole life and I do get angry sometimes and slam doors ,punch walls ,etc...but I never experienced that kind of anger.
I should refer that I usually smoke marijuana but that day I had not smoked yet ,and I don´t stress when I don't smoke.
So that day ,it was about 10:30 AM and I was leaving the classroom talking to a classmate ,we where taking the stairs down and talking ,when I was talking to my classmate ,the other classmate ,Rodrigo , interrupted my conversation ,and I told him to wait ,and he told me to shut up ,and when he told me to shut up I went straight to him and told him not to tell me to shut up again ,then he grab's me ,tells me that he can tell me to shut up whenever he wants and tries to knee me on the crotch hitting me on my leg I think .And I thinked for about 3 seconds and then I started to see everything red and I grabed him and sweep him ,he fell to the ground and I just remember trowing my backpack to the ground and I blacked out ,at that moment I was acting by instinct ,then when I got back to myself I had my hand raised and I was about to punch him, and he was looking to me and I could see that he was scared.
Then I went downstairs trying to remember exactly what happened ,it seemed like it was a long time ago.
Today I talked to a friend of mine that saw the whole thing and he told me that I grabed Rodrigo's neck and I don't remember it ,I also remember saying something but I don't remember what.
Today I remembered this incident and googled this subject and found this site.I hope that you identificate your story with mine ,because I indentificated mine.
Best wishes André

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, Andre! It's especially interesting that you should have this experience in a culture where "seeing red" does not have the meaning it does in English.

Anonymous said...

alright i saw red literally when i got into a fight a few years ago. my last name is a Norwegian name, Skallerud, it means skull red or red skull. i also heard about a norway saying "å se rødt" which means to see red and i think my skallerud family tree has something to do with me seeing red.
the guy i fought used to be my friend and he knows about my dad, who almost killed himself and left with a woman he cheated on my mom with.

so my fight started with this fat kid, he was messing with my friend and i defended him. the guy i fought was named danny, he was winning. he got me on the ground and said to me, "i wish your dad could see me beating the shit out of you". when he said that is when i saw red, everything i saw had a red tint, as if you were to wear red tinted sunglasses. i got up and punched him a few times and he backed down. i couldnt control myself and i still saw red. i attacked him again and right when i got him on the floor the red went away. i felt bad because a few hours later the guy i fought, danny, had a black eye and his lip was swollen.

i told my mom about it(im only 16) and she said that my uncle also saw red when he was very angry so im convinced that its a genetic thing in my family.

Anonymous said...

im the Anonymous person above. my email is kyleskallerud@yahoo.com if you want to contact me (yes that is my name)

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Schwitzgebel,

I was also curious as to why some people literally "see red" when triggered by extreme anger. Accoring to the book 'Rage: A Step-by-step Guide to Overcoming Explosive Anger', "Some people literally see red because the rush of blood being pumped far too quickly and powerfully expands the capillaries in their eyes."

Lorena said...

Hi. I came here because my husband and I are separated, and we got into a huge fight tonight. I got so furious that I literally saw red! I blinked, but it still stayed there. I actually thought I might have busted some blood vessels in my eyes. I also experienced high blood pressure, rapid pounding pulse, headache, dizziness, and was in danger of passing out at one point. My pulse was also irregular. I called my sister to calm me down (she has always been good at it), and then took a baby aspirin (I have a heart issue), a hot shower, and layed down a bit before it went away. It took about an hour, and I was scared. It's been about three hours now since that happened, and my eyes still hurt. I am under a huge amount of stress, and I really thought I might lose control. I am 35, and this has happened to me twice before in my late teens/early twenties. I do not remember much about the first two times except that both time were stress and rage induced. You don't forget seeing red once it happens to you! It's a really indescribable experience. My email is wheatjones@gmail.com if you want more information. I am really interested to find out what causes this phenomena. Thank you.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the description, Lorena (and all the others). I wish I knew what was going on with this sort of thing!

Lorena said...

I also forgot to mention that I was running a fever aftre my episode. Today I am weak and shaky. I think that seeing red is a physical response to a phychologically stressful event.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing red. i remember when i was playing with my friends when i was about 5-6. it was like wearing red lens glasses and lasted rougly 15 seconds. one of my friends was walking towards me and it just clicked and i had no control. i lifted him up and while i was lifting him it just went away and the strenght that came with it had vanished. therefore he fell to the ground. when the red dissapeared i was suprised to see my friend hurt on the floor and people asking me why i had done it. i only remember then asking them what i had done.

Anonymous said...

Looks like I wound up on your blog for the same reason as many others-- I googled seeing red angry. This happened to me once, and I'm still so bothered by it that years later I'm searching for why it happened.

My roommate at the time was dating someone who basically threatened me, and was backing me into a corner literally. I'm female, and have never been around a physically abusive man. He was definitely coming at me with the intent to beat me up. I don't know if it's because I was backed into a corner and a fight or flight response kicked in, but as I was backing away from him this is what happened. I felt a snap (literally- like a rubber band snapped) inside my head, things sort of went into slow motion, and as I stopped and turned my head to look at him, it appeared that a red film just sort of dropped down over my vision. I can tell you that when I looked at him (without saying anything) he immediately stopped coming at me, put his hands up in the air and began backing away from me saying, "Jesus Christ I'm sorry- I'm so sorry- Jesus Christ" over and over. I managed to tell him (way too calmly, and in a voice that was way lower than my normal range) to get away from me- to get out of my house. I have no doubt that I would have killed him had he continued trying to attack me. I don't know what he saw, but clearly something was wrong because, as I said, he immediately went from trying to hurt me to trying to protect himself.

I don't believe in evil or a devil or possession or anything like that. I'm educated and have a degree in Psychology, and yet I have no explanation for the combination of what I felt & saw, and how he reacted to it.

The scariest part of that experience was not that a man was about to beat me up, but what physically happened within me & realizing that potential is there. I've never been a violent person, but that freaked me out enough that I wound up on more of transpersonal psych path in life. It is nice to know that other people have had the same experience, though it still freaks me out.

Anonymous said...

Seeing red has happened to me on various accations. The latest was today when I got hit in the back of the head and I snapped on my family. And my friend said my whole "vibe" and personal being had changed.

He said I had a certain look in my eyes and and expression on my face of a killer. It took a lot to calm down. I wont go into what i did though. I just want to know what causes me to lose control and see red. I don't know if something triggers in my brain to send me into my natural instincts or what.

But what ever set me off this time scared everyone in the house including my friend. If you have any information that could help me please email me, quicksilver7293@aol.com.

Thank you,

Cody Birchfield

Anonymous said...

About ten years ago my brother punched me in the nose and started a bleed. As I looked at my hand tainted with blood I felt myself become irrationally enraged and saw everything around me like if I was seeing it through red glass. For the last decade I rationalized that this was due to the image of blood I had just seen. Now I know what I saw and am posting to share. (Before that I must say that a psychological or physiological reaction seem unlikely because lots of emotions cause the sympathetic nervous system to act up and pump blood and so on and yet only anger triggers this phenomenon that is too wide spread to be in a persons head).
Early this year I decided to take an aura reading class with a couple of friends (and quite honestly we didn’t expect to see anything). Our teacher explained the meaning of colours for her (you can google this, there seems to be a general consensus among people who study this, “bad” red is associated to anger) and then after a brief explanation on how to see a persons aura (whatever that is, call it electromagnetic field if you like) we all started seeing auras to some degree. Only after this did it hit me that what I saw ten years ago was the result of a very strong and negative emotion. Barbara Ann Brennan, for instance, describes this in the first pages of her book “Mãos de Luz”, available for free (its in Portuguese though, but there is a lot of literature out there).

Anonymous said...

I've had a similar experience, but I can't describe it as "putting on rose tinted glasses" like others here. Let me start off by describing a different epi phenomenological experience I sometimes have. I've talked to friend about it, and they seemed to recognize it. One called it the "Big Small".

If I close my eyes and concentrate on nothing in particular, I can "see" a swirling mass of purple. It appears to turn itself inside out, and yellow comes out of it. And the yellow turns itself inside out, and purple comes out of that. If I meditate intently, I sometimes start to "hallucinate" (or "dream", though I'm awake) pictures that subjectively feel like the purple thing has "turned" into pictures. People swirl into other people, and so on.

Now, back to seeing red. I was once pushed into a state of great anger, and I noticed a "cloud" of red, and some green. I closed my eyes, and saw the purple thing where the red cloud had been. Basically, the purple "thing" was overlaid on my field of vision.

I get the feeling that this is some kind of dissociative defense mechanism.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for information on this subject for while now. I know someone mentioned epilepsy as a possible cause but I have epilepsy and I'm not a doctor but I dont think its related. My experience happened about 20 years ago (I was 20). I was at work and an older co-worker who had been irritating me for several weeks finally said one thing too much when I went to turn in keys. My world just turned red. I didnt say a word to him I went and moved my car because it was in the way walked back to where he was, everything was still red; and lit into him verbally. I have no idea what I said to him, I barely remember seeing him, I remember him standing with his mouth open. When I was done I went back to my car and left work. As I was driving away the red slowly left my vision. It happened one other time several years later but it was just for a split second. All I could think or wonder about was the berserkers (from I think it was the vikings) and if this is was what triggered their fighting ability.

Anonymous said...

Just today I saw red, this occurrence is not unusual for me. I am 13 in high school I am a freshmen. The first time i saw red was about a year and a half ago. I was at boyscout camp and had been being bullied by a kid the whole week. On the final day of the camp this kid bumped into my shoulder intentionally and all the sudden everything turned blood red and I felt like I was in an oven. I swung him around facing me in an instant, and the images and sounds of him mentally and physically torturing me for the past week all flashed through my mind and in an instant i swung at him and hit him square in the jaw and broke all of my knuckles. His jaw swell up purple and this 14 year old kid lay crying from a 12 year old fist for 2 hours. The second occurrence was a couple of months ago when my girlfriend told me that she had cheated on me and all the sudden I closed my eyes and punched straight through the wall and when I opened them everything was red in the same manner as the first time and all the skin was peeled off of my fist but I couldn't feel it. The last time this occurred witch is why I came seeking this sight was today when my long-time best friend jokingly slammed me into the wall. At the time i was being pushed i felt overwhelmed by helplessness and self pity (my friend is much larger than me) when I hit the wall everything turned red once again and I found myself charging at my friend not feeling any emotion towards him other than pure and utter rage, I drew back my fist and was about to nail him straight in the face when I felt as though something had a hold of me from behind, and all of the sudden I realized it was my friend and stopped.
If you would like to contact me my email is ace.selander@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I always had thought that seeing red just meant you were really angry. Out of control. Raging.

It doesn't

I was going through a divorce. My ex is a cocain addict and alcoholic, but because she was the biological mom, the judge gave the kids to her anyway. I was dealing with it but one weekend they were over for visitation. My ex came to pick up the kids and my daughter ran into the laundry room and started crying. She said, "I'll do anything, I'll be good, I promise. don't make me go". To this day that memory haunts me.

I was driving down the street that weekend and dwelling in that memory. Realizing that not only was I losing time with my children, they were suffering in the process, and I was helpless. I kept in that moment and, I am not sure when I tripped over it, but I went from helpless, upset, and angry, to literally seeing red. I have memory of the experience, I didn't black out. But I was... detached. Time slowed down.

I knew that if my Ex had been within range of me, there was no telling what would have happened. Anything rational was buried in a sea of red. While I have never let myself get to that level, I know it's there now. I can get to it if I focus on my kids and the experiences they have been through. Yes, I can call it, but I can't control it, which is why I don't allow myself to go there. It can't be good to detach from your rational self. It's something I had never experienced previously.

For those of you who have had the experience, you are not crazy. I can't tell you how much of it is psychology and how much of it is physiology. I just know it's real. And it's not a simple case of 'having a temper'.

Anonymous said...

Haha, this thread is over four years old, but surprisingly, it's the only hit you get when you google "seeing red anger."

I too have had this experience. At the time, I was working in heavy construction on a high-rise project in downtown Seattle. My co-worker and I both have a bit of a marijuana problem and we would often get high on the job. I mention this because what I now know about the drug is that while it might mellow you out initially, it actually makes you quite irritable and angry overall, greatly increasing your "net anger."

Anyways, there was constant friction with our foreman and the way he was managing the job, and I was known to fly off the hook over small things. I don't remember what it was that day, but I do remember in a fit of rage going to an upper floor, away from people, to sit for a moment, meditate, and clear my head. I typically meditate with a soft focus, eyes half-lidded. I don't recall how it came on, but everything went amber for a moment. It's hard to say how long, maybe for a second or two. Everything. Amber. Looking through cellophane or tinted lenses is a good way to describe it. Sky, concrete, surrounding buildings, all amber. A blink later and everything was normal.

I've not previously had this experience, nor did I think "seeing red" was literal expression, so it was alarming and I snapped out of it. Interestingly, it happened not at my peak anger, but some five to ten minutes later. This happened years ago, but I recall the experience itself plain as yesterday. I'm not sober today, but I've come to terms with my drug problem and no longer use.

Thanks for asking this question and putting up this thread! There are no other accounts on the internet of "literally seeing red." Seeing is believing--it's not a figure of speech

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the continuing comments, folks. I like seeing life in these old threads!

Anonymous said...

I found this thread googling "seeing red tunnel vision". This is what I experience when something really gets me angry. I see everything through a red haze, I get tunnel vision, hear rushing in my ears, sometimes my hands shake. This happened often as a kid, usually as a response to bullying. I got in a lot of fist fights. Even now in my 40s, I experience it every once in a while. I can typically force it down and force myself to relax and "swallow my rage". I (like a previous poster) think of norse berserkers when it happens.

One of my older brithers also says he experiences this. Our father had a very explosive temper and used the phrase "seeing red" sometimes, but I'm not sure how literally to take that. Maybe genetics are a factor.

I will also say that I was surprised to learn that not everyone experiences this and that it's not "normal" (whatever that means).

Anonymous said...

This passage was written in 2006. I wonder if you are still looking into this topic?

I was looking up google to see if there is any explanation for seeing red when you see something that you really like or lust after.

I met this guy recently and we really like each other. He told me that he'd get really excited whenever he sees me, and everything would sort of go red or purple-ish. I wasn't sure if he was just kidding or exaggerating. Just curious to see if anyone else has similar experience as his.

Perhaps seeing red isn't only related to anger but is related to any type of emotional experience (and some people are more susceptible to it)? My thought is that it may have something to do with the dilation of the person's pupils when they undergo an emotional experience.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Could be. As far as I'm aware, the issue still hasn't really been studied

aamarie8788 said...

This may be a little off from the color sensation, but for some reason when I get fully enraged my eyes cross internally , I see flashes of black and white and get dizzy. Not seeing anything else that is in front of me. This only lasts for a split of a second and then my adrenaline shoots through the roof. I found this site because I was cross-referencing with 'seeing red' to see if others go through this same 'loss of sight' when they reference 'seeing red'. I know this original posting was from 5 years ago but I figured it was worth the share.

silva_tempus said...

I've literally seen red, though it was just the once. I was actually so startled by seeing red that the fight I was in (which had, at that point, not progressed beyond argument) stopped immediately. I couldn't tell you much about the fight, itself, beyond that it was with one of the three boys I lived with, growing up. To give background, I am a woman from a highly Germanic family that has resided in the United States for many generations. My father was abusive and lent to me his temper, but the abuse gave me a level of control for that temper that is at least slightly better than his own. Here is why I mention that: this argument I speak of was the first time in a very long time that I completely discarded my control in favor of my temper. So my suggestion is that perhaps "seeing red" includes not just a loss of temper but also a loss of control of self.
I hope this is, in some way, helpful.

Michael said...

Looking through these posts it seems like a good majority of the people who experience seeing red are either scandanavian or germanic. This couldn't possibly be a relation to the norse berserkers? The norse were both scandanavian and germanic and were known to have warriors that would go into fits of rage(berserk) and fight with an almost animal like aggresion and strength.

I know my blood comes from northern germany right up by denmark. I've experienced seeing red on a few occasions while boxing or lifting weights and I've always jokingly said it was my viking blood kicking in, when people mentioned that I went into almost another state of being during the tasks. My brother has also told me about his experiences of seeing red which leads me to think it could easily be hereditary which could trace it to the berserkers in a way. I just had never connected seeing red with the old stories of berserkers until now. I wonder what you guys think?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

The only other language I am aware of that uses the phrase "seeing red" as indicating rage is German. Anyone know about the Scandanavian languages?

Michael said...

Ive seen a couple norwegians say they have saying of "å se rødt". No idea about danes or swedes but it could easily be there too.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Very interesting! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've seen red once when I was 16 in highschool when I had a knife pulled on me. That is all I remember till I was pulled off him. When I asked my doctor he said it is a symptom of blind rage (temporary insanity) when your body is put in a stressful fight or flight situation.

Anonymous said...

when I was in elementary school, we were in a group that would pray the rosary...yes catholic school. well on our knees, i opened my eyes because I felt sick and all I saw was red. I wasnt angry in fact i was frightened because I couldnt speak or move. It passed after a few minutes but didnt even know how to tell anyone. As I read the other posts I wonder what happened that day..maybe a panic atack or stroke....no idea. It has never happened again, but I wont ever forget it.

Anonymous said...

Twice I've been angry enough that it had an effect on my eyesight. The first time it was red, I was just so angered by someone's comment that in that moment I was just blinded by red and immediately it was over, and I calmed down. The second time however, I saw white, just like a blinding glow or flash of white light. Again, it was because I was so angered by someone's comment. It happens very quickly and almost helps you to realize your rage and then calm down afterwards. I'd thought this happened to everyone, but when I mentioned a few times and I discovered that it wasn't as common as I'd thought, and that's how I ended up on this site!

I agree with a previous comment, I suspect that it is a biological reaction from pressure in the head and eyes causing a blurred vision. If it is biological, I'm surprised there isn't more studies on this as of yet.

Anonymous said...

sorry I'm in a hurry but here's my theory. human evolution. perhaps this is something that saved the human race. we use to be very violent and fight hand to hand to the death. Some like myself will be calm, nauseous, or even pass out at the side of my own blood. I believe this is a human instinct that has developed so bad that I would not be able to kill anyone or maybe I would even pass out and appear to be dead if someone was trying to kill me. on the other hand those who and go into rage have also developed but more so in a way to go full throttle while in danger. sorry I don't have time to be any clearer. X2dare@gmail

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for sharing, I looked up this subject as I have experienced a change in vision twice in my life while experiencing a high level of stress/anger. The only difference was I've never actually seen red; but what has happened is that my vision changes to almost a grey scale and it also seems as though things are farther away. Has anyone else ever experienced this, this is humiliating to even post as it sounds like I have real anger management issues, but it genuinely concerns me. Thanks for anyone's input.

Anonymous said...

As a kid I was severely mistreated. I was suffocated and beaten all the time. The physical pain was nothing compared to the mental torture I endured. Quite frequently I saw red and basically went crazy destroying anyone or anything in my path. Everything in sight was literally red and this would last for maybe a minute.

Lauren said...

I experienced pure, unbridled rage at a soccer game (i'm a 13 year old girl). One of the other teams players had pushed me down, and all i could see was red for about 3 seconds. i wasn't angry, i wasn't pissed, i was enraged. The rage that you can't control, you just want to punch something or someone in the face as hard as you can.

veve said...

I know this is an old thread but I just wanted to share my experience. When I was around 7 or 8 I saw red and its something I will never forget. My experience is a little different than others because I don't remember being angry but here it goes. I was outside watching my brothers wrestle on the sand and my dog was barking at them and I remember going up to my dog and hugging him and I put my head next to his with our eyes parallel and all of a sudden everything went red. I watched my brothers wrestle and everything seemed normal except I was watching it all in red. It wasn't like red spots or one eye only it was literally red vision. It was amazing but it freaked me out so I let go of my dog and it went away. I remember looking at my dog with curiosity, so I put my head next to his to see if it happened again but it didn't. For the longest time I thought I had seen through my dogs eyes until I found out dogs can't see red. I never told anybody about it because I thought no one would believe me. I am glad I googled it because now I don't feel alone on this but I am still curious to know why I saw red that day.

The Inconvenience said...

A few years back, when I was 13 and in 8th grade, I had gotten in trouble for something stupid (I can't remember it.) I was angry at both myself, and at the principle for his overreacting. Throughout the school assembly we had every morning, I had a red coloration to my vision.

When we had to put up our chairs onto a rack, which weighed almost a ton when full and had wheels that didn't turn, I, usually a weakling, pulled the rack singlehandedly into the closet 15 feet away, due to adrenaline.

This leads me to believe that when large amounts of adrenaline are pumped into the eyes, vision turns completely red. Though I do forensics for the FBI and am in no way a psychologist, so it's just a guess.

The Inconvenience said...

A few years back, when I was 13 and in 8th grade, I had gotten in trouble for something stupid (I can't remember it.) I was angry at both myself, and at the principle for his overreacting. Throughout the school assembly we had every morning, I had a red coloration to my vision.

When we had to put up our chairs onto a rack, which weighed almost a ton when full and had wheels that didn't turn, I, usually a weakling, pulled the rack singlehandedly into the closet 15 feet away, due to adrenaline.

This leads me to believe that when large amounts of adrenaline are pumped into the eyes, vision turns completely red. Though I do forensics for the FBI and am in no way a psychologist, so it's just a guess.

Anonymous said...

I saw red yesterday. I went to the store and ended up waiting forever in line. Then, as I was driving back home from the store, a guy in front of me was going so ridiculously slow I was just ready to explode. When I got home I parked the car in the garage and walked into the house. As I was popping a dinner in the microwave all of the numbers appeared red, as did the whole kitchen. It lasted about 30 seconds. I felt very woozy. I haven't been able to forget about it so I did a web search and here I am. Just one more story to add to the others.
My lineage is German and northern European in case that is useful.

Jeff Hock said...

I have had my vision go to a red tint or yellow gaze to to point where it is almost a euphoric feeling and I have to try to keep it together. Never had to do with rage or anger though and I was sober during all of the events which have been at least five to date.

Anonymous said...

Three weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me. it all started when i Travel to UK to spend my holiday with my friend,i was trying to contact him but it was not going through. So when i came back from UK i saw him with a lady kissing, i was frustrated and it gives me sleepless night. I called my friend told her what happened and she introduce me to a spell cater who helped her long time ago. Which i contact him and i never believed that the spell will work so easily because i have contacted many spell casters to get him back all they do is to take my money with no result. I am happy to tell you all that my boyfriend is back and committed to me alone and he do whatever i ask him to do with love and care. All thanks to Esango Priest the great magician who helped me to restore my boy friend to me:You can reach him via email esangopriest@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

i have seen red a few times, normally it only happens in domestic issues, whether someone is attacking me or a loved one. oddly enough i saw my ex-girlfriend attacked and did not react horribly, and it was pretty bad. she started the fight with another girl and ended up on the ground being beaten, so i came out with a 9mm and got the girl off of her with the threat of a bullet to the back of the attackers head. attacker had her boyfriend with her as well, and he pulled out a piece of metal before they left and threw it at her, hit her right in the chin, had to have stitches. this didnt make me see red, but when my brother was being double-teamed by two of his "friends", who hes since learned are not really friends but more of bullies (im sure we all had bigger friends that were too physical at times), but when seeing them both hurting him my vision went red for about 2 minutes, and after tackling one off of him, they thought it'd be fun for me to join into this wrestling/rough housing. well i wasnt having it so i started kicking my attacker who was 4-5 years older in his stomach as he had me lifted in the air. I was dropped on my couch, and i ran past him into the kitchen to grab a knife. Once I had the knife it was sort of like I couldn't control myself completely. he was holding out his hands and getting closer, so i slashed his palm wide open and he bled on my floor. he left screaming he'd beat me up later, but that never happened.

Another time when I was younger (12,13, puberty age) my mom had decided to pick me up by my throat against a wall. being my mom I couldnt hit her or anything, so I pushed her with a good bit of force and over the table she went. my brother came down saw the commotion and joined her side, big mistake. after being held down by two people I bit a hand and got free, my vision was totally red and I've never felt so out of control... I threw the hardest punch I think I've ever thrown, thank god it missed my brother..

when in this state i can't control how im punching or what I might do next. it's usually very short lived so thank god I never killed anyone... Irish/german in descent, hasn't happened in years. guarantee if a loved one starts getting hurt itll happen again though.

Definitely feels like animal instinct kicks in and you just flail and try to literally snuff out the cause of your anger. definitely dangerous, i also have anxiety issues so if others do maybe this is a common cause.. i also have "visual snow" so my brain interprets things a little different than most already. idk just throwing out info to see if neone knows whats up. will check back later for responses because I always heard the saying and have experienced it but not many others have. i assume you have to be put into the position of feeling like you or a family member is going to die for it to happen, at least for me.

Julia said...

Hello, I am an 18 years old female and I wanted to share my experience with see red. It has happened twice so far. Once when I was 16 and once earlier today.

The first time I literally saw red was when my sister's husband, my brother-in-law at the time, was at our house. He was abusive to my sister and my niece. I hated him with so much passion, that everything he did made me enraged. I wanted him out of our family and away from my sister and her baby.

One night, he was sitting on our couch, eating our dinner like a pig, and he started saying something to me. It took all my strength to not turn around and punch him in the face. I kept walking down the hall and when I got to my room, the door was blood red. As I was turning the door knob, everything slowed. My vision wasn't blurry, it was crisp and vivid and red. My hearing left, like I was completely submerged underwater. It only lasted for a few seconds; when I blinked a few times my vision and hearing was back to normal. My pulse was quick, I was sweating, and shaking.

Almost the same experience happened today. My brother came down for the holidays. It has been tense with all of the current problems going on. He, for some reason, decides to start yelling at my sister at the top of his lungs for no reason. I'm instantly enraged by his behavior and immediately react. I initially saw red like last time, but I blinked a few times and it didn't go away. Instead, my vision went from red to dark orange to light orange to yellow then back to normal. It took much longer and especially because time was slowed. I had time enough to look around at my other sister's faces. My hearing came back and I had already jumped to my feet and started defending my sister. I don't even remember what I said to him in this fit of rage. But my sister told me to calm down, so I yelled at him a little more, then left and continued shaking for the next hour or so.

The weird part is, I said to one of my sisters that I saw red and she told me that the same thing happened to her today and she described the exact situation. I also have a pretty large family,I am the youngest of 8. We get in fights all the time.

I've noticed that I don't see red when someone is directly attacking me. Most of the time, it's when someone is attacking or has attacked my loved ones. Also, I asked my other family members if they have ever literally seen red. And nobody has except for one sister.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. Was googling what it meant to see red when I get angry. I have PTSD, and someone was yelling at me and I flipped to seeing red, which has always happened growing up. I grew up in a very violent household with my older sister beating and both my parents. you name it, it happened growing up. I am just trying to figure out my mind. Everything just turned red during my anger. I was shaking and had to go release some physical energy outside to stop the red haze.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say its good to see that im not the only one. I have seen red before and also Yellow. A couple months back I was rollerskating and I jumped over a child so I wouldn't hit him. I landed on my arm and broke it at the elbow. I didn't feel any pain. and as soon as I hit the ground I heard a snap and my vision went yellow.

A couple months before that I was having a tough time with school work, my job, and My parents were nagging me. I was just standing at the door about to go outside when my mother made a rude comment on how I looked. All I could hear was a loud roaring and my vision went red. I just stood at the door for a couple seconds not moving. Freaked out. I then went to the restroom to look at my eyes to make sure I wasn't bleeding.

After listening to the song The red by Chevelle I googled Red vision and found this.

It felt good to see i'm not the only one who experianced this.

More recently I was at class and my best friend put his arm around the girl I like (Hes a bit of a player) flirtingly. All I could feel was rage and anger welling up inside. I just stood there for a minute (I have a bit of a temper so I wait for feelings to pass before acting)And just glared at him. Realizing what he had done he put his arm up and backed up a bit mouthing the words "Sorry Bro."

All I can say is after reading this thread I'm glad I didn't act on any feelings I had.

I have no doubt I would have thrown him to the nearest wall.

DeeRN said...

DeeRN..
I have experienced several episodes of hours long "red vision" with all of them upon waking after sleep. For each there were no causes of anger, bad dreams, inadequate sleep, or otherwise,..just waking up, opening my eyes and seeing red like looking through a pair of red-lensed glasses. Whether it was waking to a nap after work and being in the evening, or in the morning, red was everywhere. The first episode was somewhat scary but now I have become used to the idea when it happens and just accept it until it disappears hours to a day later. There is no physical pain and I just had my eyes examined fully today by a specialist who did thorough 3 hour testing and telling me that it had nothing to do with my healthy eyes. He contacted my primary physician in the hopes of still pursuing a cause for this strange ocurrence with the help of testing for a temporal lobe constriction (cardiology) and doing a Doppler Study just to rule-out any vascular cause. In his many years of experience as a physician, he only had 2 patients with the same complaint and one was elderly with a vascular problem. If my testing goes well, I can only speculate that maybe alien abductions do occur after all and I have been one of their patients over the last couple of years. I'm open to any feedback and am also a Registered Nurse for the past 35 years. Dee8070@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Back in my mid teens (21 now) I was a very violent and angry child. On several occasions I had gotten so angry that before going into a black-out violent rage, everything I saw was in the color red. It was as if I was wearing blood red colored sunglasses. I felt so incredibly angry that I could have killed someone with my bare hands and felt nothing against it.

Anonymous said...

p.s.
Guy who talked about getting stabbed here. On my second search I found a link to one of those wiki-answer type pages, and someone suggested that there is something called a "red-out" that fighter pilots and people on roller coasters experience. It supposedly happens because too much blood rushes to their head. Have no idea if this is true, or if the same thing can happen to the body from its own internal processes.

Anonymous said...

I found this blog as a co-worker told me she literally sees red and I wanted to see if this was a real thing and the origin of the phrase. I have never experienced it, but I have had a sensation of something warm washing over me when enraged and starting to lose control. I always assumed it was the feeling of adrenaline being released, but now I'm wondering if other people feel it.

Anonymous said...

I had a girlfriend who saw red (as described by other people here) when she was crazy-angry (lucky for me, I never saw it).

Anonymous said...

Hello.. My name is mike.. Just yesterday i was.at work in the afternoon, and i became so enraged over an incident that the vison in my left eye became red... Rosy... pinkish.. Everything hax a red girl to it.... Like watching a black and white movie... But in red... I did fell in charge and on point... Just a little nervous... Like oh no.... Now what did i do..... But in a few minutes... It was gone..

Anonymous said...

seeing red does not actually mean seeing the color red in your vision my eyes have been bloodshot from rage and i've bleed from my eyes but I have never seen red vision other than blood nearing my eyes seeing red refers to a state of mind and loss of control

Anonymous said...

seeing red does not actually mean seeing the color red in your vision my eyes have been bloodshot from rage and i've bleed from my eyes but I have never seen red vision other than blood nearing my eyes seeing red refers to a state of mind and loss of control

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this will be of any help, or if you even still read these seeing as how its been several months. Anyways i started looking into some of this because not that long ago i got so pissed that my vision literally turned red. All i could think about was beating my roommate to a bloody pulp. I did notice however when i looked in the mirror that my eyes were literally turning red from all the blood in them.

Again don't know if this will be of any help, but i do believe that is has something to do with all the blood rushing to your eyes.

Anonymous said...

Seems like it must have something to do with the adrenal glands. Most of the people responding have described "fight or flight" situations, except for a couple who have described having red vision upon waking. The adrenal glands produce cortisol and aldosterone, which are involved in the production of adrenaline. Those same 2 hormones are involved in waking you up, or getting you going in the morning. Maybe the adrenaline causes the vessel dilation in the eyes that causes the red vision. Interesting blog. Was researching the phenomenon for a story. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

My friend Rage only ever comes when I need him most, and when I do need him most he appears in red. When he does appear in red, I do have heighted senses but depending on the length of that brief moment of fury, I usually don't remember much.

Its not that I'm angry or that I have suppressed emotions that bring on the rage but it's the situation I find myself in when I feel that I'm 100% in the right and have done nothing to deserve someone elses anger/assult.

After the fact, I feel like I have an overwhelming feeling of serenity and seem to always ask myself the question 'what have I done?'.

I've raged out to red a few times in my life but only once I never saw red.

I was out with my partner, her mum, dad and her two brothers at a pretty suave` restaurant. I was sitting across my partner. The night was going good, blah blah blah, then her brother hit her on the shoulder and she winced ouch. I knew there was no malice behind it and tried hard to keep that feeling bottled up. Good luck me. Must of been like three seconds and I had reached over the table and punched him, hard, in his arm. I put into words my reasoning 'don't you ever touch her again!!!'. Instead of her mum and dad saying, you know what, he's fu*kin right, all I got was stares of disbelief. I felt disappointed and let down.

That is the only time I have raged out where I have tried to stop the process.

To conclude, the difference between that rage and rage when I see red is time factor. Those three seconds, I felt the sensation flush over me past the point of no return where red kicks in instantaneously.

Regards Roger

Anonymous said...

It happened to me last night for the first time, and I'm 64. I spent the last two weeks with a woman with whom I'm madly in love but is in another relationship that she can't end, and our relationship is almost over because of the risk to her wellbeing. I drank and smoked some last night, with her on my mind constantly, fighting the realization that I may never see her again. I nodded in my chair, and woke with red vision, totally. In my case it must have been emotionally generated, but not by rage. Sadness and frustration, yes, but no anger. I blinked but it stayed, so I closed my eyes for a bit, and my vision recovered.

I know rage, and have been mad enough to hit the wall and break a bone, but I never saw red in any rage episode.

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was just an expression, perhaps related to bull fights, until once when I was the angriest I have ever been in my life and suddenly everything in my vision was tinted red for a few seconds. I figure it was from dilated blood vessels in the retina. I hate to think what my blood pressure must have been at the time!
As a physician, I have become aware that the emotion that is worst for our health is anger, especially impotent resentment. Perhaps the health consequences are someone's way of telling us that we need to learn to forgive!

Anonymous said...

I am generally the calmest person you could ever meet. However, a number of years ago my middle son was killed in a boxing match at West Point. I have never experienced such grief. When his pitiful few belongings were returned to me from the school, I packed what I wanted to keep in his foot locker and put it into a closet in his bedroom. A few days later my oldest son came home on summer leave from West Point, and he and my youngest son, who was still in high school, went out to do some errands. I arrived home from work just as they came back to the house, and we jointly realized that someone had broken into the house through a back window while we were gone. The intruder had rifled through all the bedroom drawers and the bathroom cabinets---and the foot locker. In my grief, I have never been so angry. I saw red. It was not something theoretical. It was real. If the thief had been there, I would have killed him with my bare hands and no remorse. My sons had to restrain me from violence. It took a while to get past that anger.

Anonymous said...

i saw red one time when someone hit me in the mouth and enraged me. they intended to defend themselves from others roughhousing--which i was not participating in--and inadvertently hit me. i really detest being hit on the mouth, ever since i was a child, and when he hit me i just lost self control and saw red, and ran up and hit him. i wouldnt ordinarily do such a thing. i know he didnt mean it and i would not have done it in my right mind. my recollection is a rosy blur, and it felt as though my fist only grazed his face, but others say i hit him pretty hard and he supposedly stumbled. kind of scary to know that is inside of me. it hasnt happened since. that was about 15 yrs ago.

Anonymous said...

Coming back back from iraq my cheating wife pushed me upthe stairs after refusing to let me out of the house in the midde of one of our fights. After she pushed me i saw red. But it was as if it was one large red ball of light that was not transparent with a red filter around every thing else that i could see through. I dont recall moving but when i stopped seeing red my arm and fist was around 2 inches away from her face. I looked and her eyes were large b/c she just saw how close she came to getting punched. Only time it ever happened. Any Q. Email me at Atonytime@yahoo.com

Deja said...

I came here because I was looking for the etymology of "blind rage." My memory is a tad fuzzy, but the one or two times I felt controlled by this emotion, my vision was altered in a way that I almost couldn't see for a moment. It was not tunnel vision though, as other descriptions discuss. It was more similar to the visual disturbance I get from standing up too quickly...which for me is like my vision progressively being "blacked out" except for the fact that the black is actually white/light gray.

Anyway, it's fascinating to hear about all of these experiences. I always thought the origin and popularity of this phrase was that a person was so angry, that all they could think about is violently destroying whomever made them angry (in other words, they want to see blood).

In any case, outside of some kind of aberrant functioning, I would be very surprised to learn that the actual experience of seeing red is culturally informed. There was no culture in that moment for me, only instinct, a flood of chemicals through my brain/body, and literal "blind" rage.

Anonymous said...

I have recently started having adrenaline surges in relation to chronic fatigue. Two weeks after riding the surges I crash and mostly bed rest for approx 3 weeks. I've known the acceleration was about to start again soon after lots of bed rest ... in the early hours of this morning there was a jarring sensation, a popping sound, my mind flashed red and a surge began. It was dark so I don't know if I would have seen red visually had my eyes been open. I felt really weirded out by my mind flashing red like that (along with the feelings of limitless opportunity that accompany an adrenaline surge).

Anonymous said...

Eric, thought this might be interesting for you. Yesterday my son (who just turned 6) told me that he "sees red". He said sometimes and for no reason one of his hands wants to smash something & he can see red around it. In his own words he said "I'm just glad my other hand is normal & stops me". When I questioned him more he was adamant that he saw the colour red, which I actually thought was just an expression until reading these posts. I've never used the term "seeing red" & wouldn't expect a child to know it either. I've no doubt my son was seeing red, which means I will obviously be following up as my son is normally a very easy-going & happy child. Good luck with the research :) PS We are from Australia

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Very interesting. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have seen red on a few occasions, and when it happens I am not conscious of what I am doing. It is not a red haze or tinge - it is total red-out. Once it was when there was a threat to my children, and twice with dentists!! Each time when my vision has cleared I am across the room from where it began, and the 'offender' is as white as a sheet and literally shaking with fear. I have advanced at them, backed them across the room, but I have clearly not actually attacked them. And nobody who was present would ever tell me what happened, what I did or said. I asked and asked, but they have always maintained their silence on the subject. I am relieved to hear that I am not the only one this happens to, and also relieved that I have never actually physically attacked anyone during the episode. Someone I know who has epilepsy said it is a form of epilepsy called 'epi mal', but I cannot find anything on the internet linking it to epilepsy.

Anonymous said...

I also see "red" when im enraged. I mean everything in my sight actually turns red, a deep crimson red. Only one time have I been so enraged, after seeing this "red" have I actually blacked out. When I came to... this person had a handprint on the side of his face.. nice deep welt.

Anonymous said...

I suffer with anger issues and I have to say, I don't see red when I lose my temper, if anything I get a light flicker in my eyes as I feel my anger building then something such as twinge in the back of my head and then just black out. So all in all, I'm never aware of what I do in those moments but it doesn't last long and I have learnt how to avoid it happening.

Desarae said...

I have noticed that when I feel especially fond and warm towards my cat while I am looking at him, his ginger- tabby face seems to have a glow that is more orange than usual. It looks like he is blushing, but in orange. I had presumed this to be purely psychological, with no investigation warranted. Interestingly, as I was reading a library book just now, at night and under a bright incandescent bulb, I discovered that I am distinctly seeing a faint red tint with my right eye and a faint green tint with my left. I am not color blind. Investigation into THIS new issue led me to your fascinating blog.

Mag said...

Not sure if this classifies under the topic but I had a moment where being so angry at my BF I lost colors completely. Everything around me was literally grey, like old movies.. so for maybe 2 seconds, then things got back as I let go of my anger in a shout and cracked fists into a bed.

Anonymous said...

I have a family history on my maternal side of having "angry blood", I never took this label to heart because I'd always felt that it was vain pride, buffoonery and an excuse to not allow yourself to be accountable for immature actions. Well I've since learned that discipline, a stable income, a beautiful family, faith in a higher power or your social status does not stop rage or seeing red. I find that at least 4 or 5 times a year when I am pushed to my limits and the person refuses to allow me space to calm down I explode. I only see red but not the kind of red that you believe with red colored lenses or a red bulb in a tiny room. But an all out dense closed in claustrophobic deep black red. I only see red not the person or place. And in that red fury only exists the desire to annihilate the now proposed enemy. I don't think that my family's "angry blood" is silly anymore and I dread the time when my blood will boil angry red vision.

Anonymous said...

I have a family history on my maternal side of having "angry blood", I never took this label to heart because I'd always felt that it was vain pride, buffoonery and an excuse to not allow yourself to be accountable for immature actions. Well I've since learned that discipline, a stable income, a beautiful family, faith in a higher power or your social status does not stop rage or seeing red. I find that at least 4 or 5 times a year when I am pushed to my limits and the person refuses to allow me space to calm down I explode. I only see red but not the kind of red that you believe with red colored lenses or a red bulb in a tiny room. But an all out dense closed in claustrophobic deep black red. I only see red not the person or place. And in that red fury only exists the desire to annihilate the now proposed enemy. I don't think that my family's "angry blood" is silly anymore and I dread the time when my blood will boil angry red vision.

Anonymous said...

I have a family history on my maternal side of having "angry blood", I never took this label to heart because I'd always felt that it was vain pride, buffoonery and an excuse to not allow yourself to be accountable for immature actions. Well I've since learned that discipline, a stable income, a beautiful family, faith in a higher power or your social status does not stop rage or seeing red. I find that at least 4 or 5 times a year when I am pushed to my limits and the person refuses to allow me space to calm down I explode. I only see red but not the kind of red that you believe with red colored lenses or a red bulb in a tiny room. But an all out dense closed in claustrophobic deep black red. I only see red not the person or place. And in that red fury only exists the desire to annihilate the now proposed enemy. I don't think that my family's "angry blood" is silly anymore and I dread the time when my blood will boil angry red vision.

Anonymous said...

I have had the experience once in my life but have never forgotten it. I was a teenage girl babysitting a younger boy cousin. In the course of some horseplay, he (completely unnecessarily) twisted my arm behind my back causing severe pain. Suddenly everything in my field of vision turned to red dots (in the same way things look to be made of black dots when one is about to faint). With unaccustomed strength I lifted him bodily and tossed him onto a couch. The rage subsided quickly and vision returned to normal.

Andrew said...

I feel I really have to share a few things after finding this blog post while searching for seeing red.

I grew up in Sweden, and the expression there is "se rött", meaning being completely enraged at something to the point of losing control of the situation. My Grandmother is from french speaking Belgium, and they have a similar description when you show excessive rage.

In Sweden, however, it has a much deeper connection into Swedish culture and history. It is a very widely used expression, and is more tightly connected to the literal meaning of physically seeing red, although it may also be used as an idiom. I would say most of my male Swedish friends have some personal experience of this.
It also happens to me every now and then, even though I would say almost everyone would describe me as very laid back.

What I have heard in Sweden numerous times is that this somehow sits in our genes, dating back to our Viking history. The Vikings would be known to fight very fiercely on the battlefield showing extreme rage and fury. Whhile in this mode of anger, they would "see red", and engage in furious combat without any regard to their own safety. This would be a major reason for their success on the battlefields of those ancient times.
Before battle, they would often incite each into extreme anger and direct it toward the enemy to fight more effectively. This would sometime include reminding each of some perceived (real or not) atrocity the enemy has committed toward you or your kin, but also by chewing poisonous mushrooms (flugsvamp) that supposedly would induce this state of mind.

Here "see red" and "go beserk" are used interchangeably, although "see red" in the modern form are less the violent term of the two.

This reference to the Vikings would very often comes up when you observe someone with this behavior. (I have seen it a number of times). People would say, "oh, its because of your Viking genes" or "your Viking blood", through some inherited mechanism from our ancestors. This may or may not be true of course, but the assumption seems to be very widespread that this is indeed tied to Swedish ethnicity. Or perhaps Scandinavian.


Andrew said...

This reference to the Vikings would very often comes up when you observe someone with this behavior. (I have seen it a number of times). People would say, "oh, its because of your Viking genes" or "your Viking blood", through some inherited mechanism from our ancestors. This may or may not be true of course, but the assumption seems to be very widespread that this is indeed tied to Swedish ethnicity. Or perhaps Scandinavian.

Anonymous said...

I just a conversation with my step son who just turned 8. Jens been having a lot of anger issues at school, almost violent. I asked him tonight to describe to me what happens before he gets so angry he proceeded to tell me that he sees red like blood and he sees himself walking around doing things. Like throwing books, almost hitting the teacher, hiding under desks, almost wanting to hurt someone. It's was very disturbing to hear but reading everyone's comments I thought you might like to know these facts coming from a child.

Christian Cone said...

When I get mad like the point of fighting, I see a very notable red color, I thought it was normal

Kris Young said...

I was at all saints catholic school. I was recess and I was playing soccer and this kid named Cole came over and said that my little sister is such a dweeb. Then began making fun of my last name then that sent me over the edge. I saw red for at least 30 to 45 seconds at the least. I was so enraged that began to think all of these ultra violent thoughts, like to smash head and burn him while his family watched. Then I would brake a whole bunch of glass then push him down and watch him squirm then to that to his family then it ended. I felt relieved or satisfied or a good feeling like that. And I know it wasn't. Well that's it.

Anonymous said...

I see red as well but for a short period of time its like a flash I get then it go's black and I don't remember what I did when I got pushed over my anger limits I was once angery and lost control for 15 min I was told during that time I got into a fight and let the man hit me as I laughed and said I love pain give me more I apparently said then I was told I got the person beating the hell out of me off and overwhelmed tben a just kept beating them laughing till some one stopped me then I became aware of my self but felt no pain till a short while later not remembering a thing about it. If anyone knows anything bout what this is plz text me at 13062768533