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 of 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) |
Conflict Cycle *|
Dealing with difficult people |
Economy & Stress Violence* |
Freeze Response* |
Getting Attacked |
High Risk Behavior* |
Is It REALLY About Self-Defense?* |
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 |
Resistance About Calling For Help |
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 |
Self-help Books: NOT helping
Violence can be a traumatic, life altering
experience. Or it could be just another day at the job.
It boils down to how well you can cope.
Whether you are the victim, the victor,
a participant or you just muddle through violence 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
Adrenal Stress Response
What the layperson thinks of as 'adrenaline' isn't just a drug, it's a cocktail
of chemicals. Putting it in commoly undestood terms, when you're adrenalized
you're drunk, high and caffinated all at once. Adrenaline
defintiely affects your thinking process. 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.
Afraid To Call For Help
Athough this page is oriented towards parents of teens, it has some important information
on connections inside our brains. Connections (or lack there of) that lead to bad decision making. Decisions
that end up compounding problems until things esclate to a crisis. People from dysfunctional
backgrounds often lack the neural connections that 'normal people' have (They never had a chance
to develop them. Or, in abusive backgrounds, different connections were made.) This page looks
at the resistance to
call for help when things are going out of control.
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
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
for psychological damage control.
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
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.
Did you know that fights, arguments, disagreement and other forms of conflict
have predictable stages? To the point of almost being like scripts from movies.
Most people don't. But how they don't know makes for all the difference. If you
come from a 'functional' background odds are you subconsciously --arguably
unconsciously--follow these 'stages' without ever realizing what you're doing.
If, however, you're from a dysfunctional background you weren't taught this script.
Often it's not the person choosing to be unreasonable, it's that the person doesn't
conflict cycle and script that effectively resolves conflict. Steps that if you don't
follow damage -- if not destroy -- relationships, create the urge for revenge and escalate
problems. (You may not be conflict avoidant, you just may not know this cycle.)
Dealing with difficult people
Dr Joseph Bablonka has
graciously granted us permission to reprint an article he wrote on the
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
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
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
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.
When it comes to violence there is no concept more misunderstood than freezing.
It's not only the greatest dread ("What if I freeze"), but it's also a point of great shame
("I froze"). Entirely too much nonsense is taught about 'overcoming the freeze.' First, let's start out with EVERYBODY freezes. Second, the question isn't "Can I
break it in time?" The question is, "Is it the best tactic for the situation?" Yes, freezing can get
you hurt. On the other hand it can also save you. The subject of
freezing is a little more complicated than you think it is.
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.
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
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
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
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. Having said that, some good news permanent PTSD
only happens to between 10 to 15% of people. For everyone else, there are ways through it.
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
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
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
steer your actions.
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
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 cliché 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
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
Western Ethics and Self-Defense
Often popular Western philosophy is diametrically opposite to what you have to do to survive.
Thes are deeply embedded issues about morals, morality and ethics. Before you can reconcile these differences you need to take a look at
what they are and
where they come from.
Self-help books: NOT helping
I have over five decades experience with trauma, conflict and violence.
If all that time has taught me anything, it's that violence doesn't just
'come out of nowhere.'
It – like conflict– has knowable stages and build up. It also has some
pretty reliable responses to certain behaviors. Unfortunately, those
actions that result in violence are almost a default reaction for most
people when they are under stress. Back in the days when things in the
night were out to eat us and the only hope we had for survival was being
in a tribe, these reactions made all kinds of sense. In our modern
lifestyles... not so much.
In fact, they often provoke a violent reaction. A big part of the
problem is to your adrenalized and emotional self these reactions will
seem like the most brilliant move and guaranteed to solve the problem.
No. They tend to escalate the situation. If in your past you
suffered abuse, these reactions will be even stronger; to the point of
you might think you can't help yourself.
But to break these habits we need to have a broader understanding of the
subject. There are many books on the side of these pages that will
help with that. They cover a wide variety of topics.
Something else to consider. Most self-help books (and in fact, therapy)
is really oriented on making you feel better. Not necessarily develop
better coping skills and changing your circumstances, but feel better
about where you are.
Well speaking as someone who clawed his way out of the violence and
dysfunction of the streets, where I was sucked. I didn't need to feel
better about it, I needed to know what it would take to get the hell out
of there. I've selected many of these books with that goal in mind, not
to feel comfortable with self-identifying as a 'victim.'
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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 common sense).
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
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