Self Defense Psychology

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Adrenalin, Monkey & Lizard Brains and Neurology hub


Normalcy bias - mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects.

Conflict Communication Summary : When we are stressed, emotional and in conflict, "monkey brain" takes control - faster than conscious thought. Articles overview
Monkey Trap (fruit in a jar): conflict scripts are for benefit of the group, not individual: not fixing problem, but maintain social order in the group. In conflict, non-rational parts of the brain activate (lizard and monkey brain), and emotions are contagious. When the emphasis changes from fixing the problem to 'winning' or 'social status', the STONED monkey is driving the bus.
Conflict Cycle - is personalized problem (how we are going to run this group, instead of solving the problem), and how to stop cycle (during submission part): communicate submission, do not sucker-punch.
Conflict de-escalation - start with yourself. Get out of monkey brain.
monkey is REALLY bad at apologizing. because monkey is not wrong, it's the other monkey's that's wrong and misbehaving.
Signs that you are in your monkey brain are when:
1) you are emotional, (offended, angry, seeking revenge)
2) convinced you are right,
3) not about to back down and
4) the original problem is eclipsed by other issues.
* You start to like or dislike an individual
* You feel disrespected, challenged or insulted
* Your focus changes from fixing the problem to proving that you're right
* You seek an excuse to dismiss the other person words and views
* You seen an excuse for your group's deeds or words
* You are doing the same for your words and behaviors
Step back, take a deep breath (conscious control over lizard brain functions)
Say "I'm sorry about that, I was getting upset for some reason." (interrupt pattern)
Refocus on the problem
PTSD - Brain is rewired. Like after earthquake, river changed course. Flash-flood in dry arroyo.Deal with PTSD when is not raining.
PTSD and anger management - emotions are real, but not accurate. Let them pass: you can feel them but may choose not act on them. Brain plasticity.
Active listening - Observing and asking about emotions is affirming. Reflect or paraphrase what was said. it will point out if you missed something. open-ended and clarifying questions.
Taboo of conflict denying conflict is "abstinence-only" education about sex. Ignorance increases trauma.
Social and asocial violence Social: enforcing group rules. Asocial: hunting own species - no other animal does it. For asocial predator, you are non-human resource, he is hunting you. if there is no audience, assume a predator, who will use more violence for less cause. When violence is taboo, we are not taught how to tell the difference (between social and asocial, and how to conduct themselves), but don't even know the distinction exists.
Conflict as life or death - because for long time, survival was possible ONLY within group. Script are about survival of the group, not individual. And emotions are infectious, but you cannot see your own: all he can see that you became also emotional. So de-escalate yourself first, then him.
Signs of monkey and difference between complaint (legitimate issue that can be resolved) and criticism (condemnation of a person what cannot be resolved = attack). Freight train - adding unrelated issues. Emotions are faster than rational thought.
Conflict scripts - why we don't see them, and how to see patterns.


Types of violence - (goals, external factors) each needs to be handled differently, and they can shift during:

  1. Territorial
  2. Behavioral Correction
  3. Criminal
  4. Predatorial

Increasingly harder to de-escalate or prevent factors:
a) whether or not it will become physically violent.
b) what you can do to — and your chances of — preventing it from going physical.

Situation can change based on:
a) what is going on inside his head given the circumstances
b) what is going on inside your head and your actions in the circumstances.

Shift can be provoked by improper (for circumstances) behavior.

Violence pathways (internal factors: how they become motivated. Logic and behavior). Important for de-escalation. Mentions logic of each, how to counter, and what to avoid:
1) Fear
2) Frenzy
3) Tantrum
4) Extortion

A response that would cause one pathway to calm down, will cause another to explode.


Humanistic ethics and sanity is assumed in our society (every individual has value), and few more: cooperation, reciprocating courtesy, expecting fair treatment and negotiation. Criminal uses your assumption of humanity to attack you safely - to gain advantage. No compromise is possible.

(simple example: someone breaking rules by cutting in front of you in the line expect you keep the rules and not attack him, even as he breaks the rules)

Cult of victimhood (women's defense against rape): assigning all blame to others, a person can achieve moral superiority while simultaneously disowning any responsibility for one's behavior and its outcome. The victim is always morally right, neither responsible nor accountable. (Rape agenda: you have right to gamble and never lose)

NNSD approach is not empower the victim, but avoid having a victim. And how other agencies (who "need" more victims to get more funding) are promoting misconceptions: It demands that OTHER people engage in self-control — not the person who puts herself into a dangerous situation. MA+anger based defense might work, or might make attacker more violent.


Blame vs responsibility - NOBODY on this planet more concerned with your personal safety than YOU. All others (police, law, etc) are concerned AFTER IT HAPPENED.

Fear Management vs. Danger Management: FM is about making you feel better (pretending to close the pandora box with dangers, while leaving you in danger). DM is about keeping you safe. You need to think, it does not pander to feelings alone. That's why FM sells better.

FM: amulet to protect you from vampires. Amulet reinforces your fear of vampires, makes them more real. Or anti-scorpion gloves (so you don't need to shake your boots).
DM: in desert, shake your boots in the morning to protect from scorpions. You still fear scorpions, but decrease danger by 99%.

There is NO SINGLE ANSWER. What works against Drunken Uncle Albert at a family reunion will get you killed against a committed — and armed — attacker.

LEARN PEOPLE SKILLS! and don't ignore warning signs. Verbal attack CAN and WILL get to violence.

FM aren't teaching you 'self-defense,' they're teaching you how to win a fight. A fight that usually could have been avoided with some people skills. FM will give you false security that you can say anything and then 'win' resulting fight - which INCREASES YOUR DANGER (more likely end up in fight PLUS being active participant in creating violent situation).

HOW POLITE YOU ARE - how fast you go on the verbal offensive

Most important is the ability to drop what you are doing and paying attention when things START getting tense. That includes changing your plans.


Fight or not to fight - false pacifist: "You're not a pacifist, you're just afraid of physical violence."

Be truly pacifist: have no agenda, no judgment. Do not reflect violence of others.

If you are emotionally/verbally violent person who hides behind a self-definition of "pacifism" you are literally "playing in the middle of the highway." Your violence will attract violent people to you, your "unconscious" behavior will give them the excuse they need and then your self-definition won't allow you to effectively defend yourself.

It is unreasonable to believe that all situations can be resolved reasonably.

If you actually are not a violent person you will have a different set of troubles. That will be that you will try to be reasonable for too long. while we tend to automatically assume that the person we are dealing with is in someway rational and reasonable, this is exactly what someone who uses violence to get what he wants is relying on you to do. you are left floundering in trying to find a reasonable compromise, while he is attacking.

In circumstances like this, being willing to be just as unreasonable is the only reasonable response. when you see the "danger signals" you must be willing to drop your perception of "you," its comfort zones and assumptions about the world

Violence IS solution
"Violence never solved anything" is lie by sanctimonious people who not only have never been out to the pointy end, but rely on people like us to keep it away from them — while at the same time condemning us for being as bad as the people we are keeping at bay. How to argue it.

Survival Mindset
1) how fast you dove into a situation that was high risk.
2) how fast you recognize what is actually going on.
3) how prepared you are to do what must be done (in a timeframe you have - you don't have time to hesitate). Do not freeze. Ahead of time decide is you will use force or not. If not, actively avoid danger. If yes, you better have ability.

Anger often focused on external source which threatens self-esteem and core beliefs. Or to overcome inhibitions and act in a way you know is wrong. Your anger vs anger of your (violent) opponent: trouble. He is faster in escalating explosive violent action. You need different strategy: your anger is not fast enough high enough to protect you. Anger is ESPECIALLY not adequate when responding to planned criminal assault. Criminal came prepared, knows has high chance to succeed, is positioned and has weapon and escape route. Your anger will only slow him down in achieving his goal - causing escalation of violence faster.

majority of people who are shot by carjackers and robbers are people who believed they could stop a crime through anger and verbal resistance. (NYC actress who's last words were "What are you going to do, shoot us?"). If anger is short madness, attacker is madder. He has badder temper tantrums.

Better that emotions are ACTIONS. No matter how angry, self-righteous or outraged you are, he's got that too. And he's willing to break your jaw to prove it.

Anger and drenaline can hijack your mind (you are not driver anymore) and make you aggressor. For adrenaline boots to be successful, you need also strategy/training - if not you can freeze. De-escalation is hard: when you are in the middle of a chemical/emotional reaction, so too is the other person! He reacts not to what you really do, but what is anger-twisted brains says him you do. To be effective you have to be able and willing to use force - if not, body language will leak and he will attack.

Pride is dangerous: it can get you into (illegal) fight as PARTICIPANT - which is not SD. Police/legal see fight, and in 99% both parties are guilty, and both claim SD - so if you have legal SD, you have to prove it.

adrenaline is DO IT NOW drug (+extra boost of energy). reaction is based of amygdala (emotional memory) - faster than conscious thought. Developed as survival response (when humans were on the menu) - not rational mind.

  • time slows down, Things appear closer, Tunnel Vision (ignore all but threat), Auditory Exclusion (don't hear anything), Pain Tolerance (damage is done but felt only later), Speed and Strength Increase (you can lift car - and tore muscles and tendons), increase blood pressure and heart beat, respiratory rate
  • Fine Motor Movement Decay (trembling is common), Unconscious Muscle Tension
  • Emotional Detachment - individuals experienced operating in crisis.
  • Bladder/Bowel Release, erection

Post-adrenal stress:

  • Nausea/vomiting, tightened muscles hurt, hypo-mania (all that adrenaline), Exhaustion or Bad Dreams/Restless Sleep
  • resurgence rush in 24-48 hrs

Acting under adrenal stress - is possible but has to be trained (and NOT using someone "ultimate fighting system"). There are no shortcuts to competence (shortcut = chocolate cake diet) - you need to put time to ingrain effective movement, so it becomes automatic.
4 levels to mastery
* Unconscious incompetence — you don't know you don't know
* Conscious incompetence — you are aware you don't know how to do it right and are struggling to learn how
* Conscious competence — you know it but you still have to think about doing it right
* Unconscious competence — you unconsciously do it 'right'

Freeze-response is part of response scale: Fight - Flight - Posture - Submit - Freeze.

  • tactical freeze: camouflage: stop moving (because peripheral vision can detect motion but not details) and don't look at attacker (because human brain is excellent in detecting faces)
  • freeze also when you feel something is wrong but not sure what. If it is bad, get out.
  • But: if something is going at you, GET OUT! then you can investigate what it was.
  • Freeze while making plan. All above: temporary, while you get ready to act.
  • Freeze when no idea what to do. Smart people have no experience letting lizard brain to drive (run like hell). Or know what trained to do but no faith it will work. Partial freeze execute what trained but without full force, full commitment. Or "freeze" by repeating something which is not working (trying to open closed door which should be open but is not).
  • Freeze when you have slight chance to win, but it will hurt a lot.
  • Freeze when you have no chance to win - learned.

Last 2 freezes will happen, needs lots of effort to reprogram. especially applies to people who want to 'rewrite their history' where they WIN this time.

Monkey Dance - differences between human, monkey and lizard part of brain. Monkey brain wants to save your life by threat display. Lizard and monkey brain (cortex and limbic system=emotions) do not think - they react on a stimulus, before neocortex will. Emotions are faster than thinking. So we react to our feeling, not to circumstances. The violent person actually has LESS emotional self-control than you. AND A GUN. Don't escalate your emotions.

Crime is a process - criminal uses lie as tool. Hiding his real intent so he can come closer fast and hurt you - not give you time to prepare defense.

Negotiation at the sharp end: getting killed is ALWAYS an option. ("Never make it easier to kill you than to leave you alive … you won't like the answer.")
If you believe it has to be resolved NOW, if you believe that you have to 'win,' if you believe that the world will end if you don't get your way … your monkey brain is in charge.
emotions are contagious as survival mechanism (run away from unknown danger).
Compromise is NOT ALWAYS possible because for some people, you are either predator or food. If you are NOT willing to kill them if they break the deal, then you are too weak for them to deal with as equals.

Surviving in different world - Rules in world of violence are different. "Normal" civilian has no chance to adapt his thinking fast enough, or ever - Get out is only option. You cannot negotiate a win/win. What is different:

  • in "normal" world, your thoughts and feelings are important. In violence, all what matters is what is happening — not what you think or feel about it. Focus on not getting hurt. Rules changed. normal reactions, patterns, reflexive responses, assumptions and behaviors — all of which work in your day to day lifestyle — are no longer effective. Adapt or get out: instead, people try to force the situation to conform to how they expect the world to work. When this does not work - is big part of why violence is so psychologically traumatic.

Violent attackers do not care about your feelings
Q: Is there anything you can say to the robber to let him know how upset you are with him that he's robbing you?
A: Saying anything to upset him is quick way to commit suicide.
Shooting someone for irritating is an outrageous idea to you, but NORMAL to him. They are used to attack anyone if they can win.

Profile of dangerous person - rapist

  • Insensitivity for others/emphasis on self - no understanding that he must co-exist with others. make you feel bad for not doing what he wants.
  • Belittling behavior or attitudes towards others - nasty or degrading comments about others – under the guise of joking.
  • Negating behavior or comments - try to tell you what you are feeling or thinking? ("you don’t really mean that")
  • Hostile and/or threatening language - refers to women as "bitches". Violence is on his mind already.
  • Bullying - big red flag
  • Excessive anger (short fuse)
  • Brooding/ revenge - stewing/angry long after the situation is over? anti-social and glare at the source of his anger from across the room?
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Physical tantrums
  • Jock or gorilla mentality (participants of contact sports): receives positive reinforcement for being aggressive and violent.
  • A mean drunk, Alcohol or drug abuse
  • So slick he could slide up hill
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