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The problem in defense is how far you can go
without destroying from within what
you are trying to defend from without.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Psychology and Survival
On This Page:
Actuality vs. Reality | * Adrenal Stress Response | Alpha/Beta Behavior | *Anger and Self-Defense | Assertive vs. Aggressive | Attracting trouble | Blame vs. Responsibility | Body Sacrosanct | Bonding Process (Human mating behavior) | * Boundaries | Dealing with difficult people | De-escalation | Economy & Stress Violence | * Getting Attacked | * High Risk Behavior | * Is It REALLY About Self-Defense? | Fear | * Fear Management vs. Danger Management | Kinds of Violence | * Lizard Brain | Mental Preparation | Monkey Brain | * Negotiation Out At The Sharp End | * Post Traumatic Stress Disorder | PTSD: A Personal Journey | *Pride, Self-Defense, Fighting & Self-Control | Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect | Problem Neighbors | Sanity in the MA | Staying Out Of Trouble In A Psych Ward | Survivor's guilt | To Fight or Not | Unintended Consequences | Violence: What is it? | Violence Geeks Blog | Violence NEVER Solved Anything ... | Western Ethics and Self-Defense | Bibliography
Violence is a traumatic, life altering experience. Whether you are the victim, the victor or you just survive it, it changes a person forever. That is an established fact... now how it changes someone depends on the person and the resources that he/she finds. Experience has taught us that the wrong resources can be as damaging as no resources at all (1). If not more so.
The fact that violence has such a strong impact on our psyche means that we need to stop and think about it before we find ourselves in the situation. Like Pandora's box, once it is opened, there is no way to put back the plague of woes it has released into our lives. Unfortunately, many people do not realize how much what we think -- and by extension, what we do -- puts us in danger of violence.
Actuality vs. Reality (personal reality that is) Have you ever had an emotional reaction to something someone said? Something that you were positive was an insult, only to discover that that's not what the person meant at all? Welcome to the difference between actuality and reality. Or to be more specific, your personal reality, which isn't always actuality.
Adrenal Stress Response How our minds and bodies function under the Adrenal Stress Response is a major factor whether we freeze or over react in a violent situation.
Anger and Self-Defense What is the relationship between your anger and defending yourself? And how can your anger get you into more trouble than it gets you out of?
Assertive vs. Aggressive Assertiveness will prevent an attack. Aggressiveness will provoke one. Before you can understand the difference between the two, you must first understand the nature of personal and shared space. Then being assertive is much easier and more effective.
Attracting trouble Have you ever wondered why bullies, troublemakers and abusers choose some people but ignore others? There is an entire complex set of behaviors and signals that are going back and forth. The Bullies page is written for young men who are caught in a cycle of behavior -- usually involving both bullying and being bullied. NOTE: due to straight-talking to a particular audience, the content is raw, vulgar and politically incorrect. Still the information is useful for anyone who is being routinely harassed.
Blame vs. Responsibility Do you know the difference? Many people think they do -- then they abdicate responsibility and put themselves into dangerous situations. When the results aren't what they expected, they resort to blame for psychological damage control.
Body Sacrosanct Inherent in the paradigm of certain people (especially within certain cultural and socio-economic levels) is the assumption that their body is sacrosanct. They believe they cannot be touched without their consent, much less attacked. This core belief can -- and does -- have a strong influence on their actions. Actions that often increase their danger. Unfortunately, this unconscious paradigm greatly adds to the trauma of being assaulted.
Bonding Process (Human Mating Behavior) Although many claim rape isn't about sex, rape is a parasite that hides within a very normal human behavioral pattern. A process that sex is pivotal to. This page explains Dr Desmond Morris's 12 step 'Bonding Process' and how, via this process humans establish intimacy. Once you know this process, you can see how easily rape can occur when the process goes wrong -- especially date rape.
Boundaries: Personal and shared space Many problems arise from a misunderstanding of the nature of boundaries. Often people believe they are defending their boundaries, but they are in fact, attacking. Our model of personal and shared space is a simple, but effective, explanation of both boundaries and why situations so often escalate out of control. It has also proved itself useful for explaining interpersonal relationships and giving teenagers a uniform explanation about why making and leaving messes in shared space is unacceptable behavior.
Dealing with difficult people Dr Joseph Bablonka has graciously granted us permission to reprint an article he wrote on the fundamentals of Dealing with Difficult People at work and in your personal life. This article offers a some good, workable long-term advice about approaching difficult people and important strategies for all of your interpersonal dealings.
De-escalation Verbal de-escalation comes in many forms and in many degrees. The No Nonsense Self-defense de-escalation program is designed for professionals in high-risk situations. In other words, people whose job it is to confront other violent and dangerous people and tell them "no." It is "front-line" psychology for preventing immediate violence and controlling a situation. As such, it may not fit the needs of the average reader. For non-professionals, we have a recommended reading list on verbal self-defense on the Bibliography page.
Economy and Stress Violence Whether it is a depression or a recession, crime goes up in economic hard times. but not just how you might think it does. There is a direct link between the economy and stress violence.
Establishing Alpha/Beta Status Humans are social animals. By this we don't just mean they like to be with one another, humans need each other in order to survive. This requires a social order, usually this organizes itself into a hierarchy. In this section we take a look at not only the nature of this phenomenon, but what roles different people fill in the group. Often trouble arises from people not understanding what alpha behavior really is.
Getting Attacked 101 Unfortunately, in trying to either establish control and dominance over a situation or warn away a potential attacker, there are core mistakes a person can make. These mistakes will escalate the situation to physical violence. Here is a handy set of guidelines on ways not to provoke an attack.
High Risk Behavior Let us start by stating our definition of High Risk Behavior isn't based in moralizing. The simple fact is that a wild party girl (who knows the rules) can be safer among bikers than a 'good girl' on a date with a 'Prince Charming' (who isn't). We define High Risk Behavior as:Any behavior that puts you into circumstances where violence is probable. It's what you do in those circumstances that will determine whether or not you will be attacked.
Is It REALLY About Self-Defense? A lot of people get into so-called self-defense training for reasons that have nothing to do with actual self-defense. On the Is It REALLY about SD? page we take a hard look at an elephant in room that people don't want to admit to.
Fear is one of the major issues that hinders personal safety. Believe it or not, this is more a problem of not understanding the nature of fear (and its purpose and benefits) than it is a problem with fear itself. Fear is your ally, not your enemy. You don't want to get rid of it.
Fear Management vs. Danger Management
There is a HUGE difference between training and behaviors that soothes your fears and the same that keeps you safe from physical danger. Unfortunately, there is a lot of self-defense training that confirms your fears while actually increasing your danger.
Kinds of Violence Many people don't know what 'self-defense' is because they don't understand there are different kinds of violence. Not only do the different kinds of violence have different goals, but your actions have significant influence on whether or not the situation goes physical. If you blindly react to any threat as though it demands you to unleash your self-defense training you are seriously increasing the chances of the situation escalating into the most dangerous kind of violence -- an event you may not survive.
Lizard Brain Your brain is a complex, multi-layered machine. One that when certain parts are activated although you may 'think' you are being rational, but your monkey or lizard brain is running the show. Unfortunately, fear, anger and other strong emotions kick you into functioning in the lizard brain.
Mental Preparation Violence is an extreme. That means you are operating in an arena that you do not normally function. A lot of things that you didn't think about previously will become a matter of life or death. This page introduces you to the factors that WILL be present in a violent encounter. Factors that you need have addressed before you try to function in that environment.
Monkey Brain We humans have -- as a default setting -- primate behaviors guiding our actions in conflict. While these patterns are not inescapable, if you don't know about how your brain is wired your monkey brain is going to be driving the bus. And monkeys make bad drivers.
Negotiation Out At The Sharp End Thoughts about how a discussion can become a conflict and how a conflict can turn violent. And how to tell when a situation is floating away from negotiation and into the extremes.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) If you've gone through a traumatic experience, there is a good chance your brain has been physically rewired. This page will give you an introduction to what can happen to you long after the incident has ended. It's called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD: A Personal Journey This article was written to get through to you a young man who was cavalierly discussing the idea of using a knife on another human being, as such the language is somewhat rough -- the message being "Wake up Junior." Although focused on knife use, it is applicable to any lethal force usage.
Pride, Fighting, Self-Defense & Self-Control
I am often approached by people who are willing to do anything for self-defense except practice emotional self-control. Treating one's emotions like an unstoppable juggernaut over which you have no control is not only the fastest way to get into a violent situation, but also the fastest way to end up in jail. That's because you weren't defending yourself, you were fighting
Problem Neighbors Having problems with an irrational, hateful and seemingly insane neighbor? In such cases you'll find yourself wondering "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PERSON? Is he insane?" The answer is no, not really. Odds are what is happening is you've run across someone who 'lives by the feud.' The problem neighbor page will help you understand what motivates these people, why being 'reasonable' doesn't work and why they won't just go away ... until you handle them correctly.
Sanity in the Martial Arts Putting it mildly, there are a lot of dysfunctional people who are attempting to self-medicate by taking martial arts/self-defense training. Their behavior can range from neurotic to a full blown cult to sociopathic. Before you buy into what they are saying, make sure they are running on all cylinders. Note: The preceding pages are more of a warning about what you will run into while seeking training. (For more personal understanding, see: What do you want out of this training?)
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Respect Do you know that there's a difference? Do you know how one can blind you from reality and the other put you more in touch with it? Self-esteem is a slippery eel, self-respect is far more stable
Staying Out Of Trouble On A Psychiatric Ward A guest columnist allowed us to post her article how to avoid the common pitfalls, problems, hassles and trauma dramas that commonly occur during a stay at a psych hospital.
Survivor's guilt There is an incredible amount of guilt associated with surviving traumatic situations. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is only one of the forms that this guilt can come in. What many people do not realize is that the same mechanism can leave you feeling guilty about what common sense actions you took to avoid being raped, robbed or beaten. Often people focus on the fact that they "didn't stand up to someone" more than the fact that they were not physically harmed. If what you did worked to keep you safe, then then that's what counts.
To Fight or Not The decision whether or not to use physical force to defend yourself is not an easy one. Either choice carries consequences and responsibilities that must be considered before hand and accordingly steer your actions.
Unintended Consequences Why is it so traumatic when things go violent? A huge part of the problem is that most people were not only not mentally prepared for violence to occur, but because of how they were thinking that option wasn't even considered. As such they face both the shock and trauma of the violence, but also the psychological fall into unintended consequences.
Violence -- It ISN'T What You Think It Is Have you ever checked your definition of violence against a dictionary? We did ... yikes. There is an old clich?that 'violence attracts violence' which has proven itself to be reliably accurate. Unfortunately most people don't realize when they are being violent. That's because the violence they are doing is non-physical
Violence Geeks I recently wrote a blog that defines a subculture that is largely overlooked by the mainstream. Although you will not find the term Violence Geeks in the DSM-IV these people are very real. And they pose a legitimate danger to people who run across them.
Violence NEVER Solved Anything ... oh yeah? Politically correct thinking would have us believe that any kind of violence is wrong (first off they need to read the proceeding section as to what violence really is). Often these people use their pacifism as a self-righteous weapon, especially against those whose job it is to use force to protect others and keep the peace. Anyone who has had to use justifiable force (or currently uses it professionally) has dealt with the scorn and contempt of those who contemptuously proclaim ' violence never solves anything,' as a put down. Marc wrote a blog to rebut this long standing clich?and how to answer when it is being used as an insult instead of wisdom.
What do you want out of this training? In the link to the Sanity section, we suggested that many people are using martial arts/self-defense/ women's self-defense/ reality based self defense training as a form of self-medication. Many people ascribe almost mythical benefits to MA/SD/WSD/RBSD training. While no one is arguing that these programs can provide assistance and beneficial tools for life, they are not omnipotent. Nor are they a replacement for professional therapy. But there are many people who go into training expecting it to solve all sorts of personal issues. Before you spend all kinds of money, you need to know what the training is and what the training isn't.
Western Ethics and Self-Defense Often popular Western philosophy is diametrically opposite to what you have to do to survive. Before you can reconcile these differences you need to take a look at what they are and where they come from.
The Abyss There is a place in the human psyche that ... well, until you've been there, warnings sound trite, any descriptions sound like lurid tails and exaggerated hyperbole. That's because until you've been there, there is NO way to describe exactly how screwed up it is. This place can only describe it in analogy and metaphors. A common term for it is "The Abyss." People who have never been there ask 'Well, if it is so bad, why'd you go there in the first place?' Ursula Vernon, an artist and cartoonist, has finally answered that question. Those who have been lured there know the truth of it. I have this print hanging in my office ... because, as serious as this subject is, we do need to keep it in perspective.
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1)There are many issues revolving around self-defense that are not addressed in martial arts training. Nor, in our opinion, are the addressed with sufficient depth in most self-defense classes. Much of what *is* advocated we consider shallow, dysfunctional, unrealistic and down-right dangerous (e.g.,: "A woman has the right to walk naked into a biker bar and be unmolested." We are not making this up this is a commonly espoused belief in many Women's Self-defense courses. We consider any such ideal an abrogation of commonsense). A lot of the advice given in these situations is either illegal, endorsing obnoxious behavior or likely to provoke an attack from a truly violent person. Then the proponents this kind of thinking wonder why they end up in chaotic and oft times violent situations. The psychological, moral and ethical complexities are far too intricate to be summed up in trite clich? and catchy sound bites. You need to be leery of anyone who tries to tell you differently. You also need to be just as leery if you find yourself slipping into just such a mindset for convenience's sake. There are no "I'd just..." answers to this topic. Nor is there any black and white "I'm right, he's wrong." Return to Text
The Bulletproof Mind
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The Missing Link: Self-Protection Through
Awareness, Avoidance and De-Escalation
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Post Shooting Trauma
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Deadly Force Encounters
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Psycho-Physiological Effects of Violent Encounters
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Do You See What I am Saying? Reading Body Language
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Street Safe: How to Recognize and Avoid Violent Crime
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The Combat Perspective: A Thinking Man's Guide to Self-Defense
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Defeating The Victim's Consciousness
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