Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Strategic Use of Shame to Counter Fear and Women's Self-Defence

Petersen and Liaras published a paper on the strategic use of emotion to counter fear in war in Journal of Military Ethics 5(4): 317-333. One of their strategic uses of emotion to counter fear in war is the threat of shame.

Shame and the threat of shame have been used since time immemorial to counter fear in war and to turn flight into fight. Honour, mateship, courage, cowardice, etc. are the mainstays of military strategies to counter fear in war in order to turn flight into fight.

WSD teaches ways and means to counter fear during a violent encounter, however, they do not use the strategic use of the threat of shame to counter fear during a violent encounter in order to fight because ... a main stay of reputable WSD courses is to emphasise that a sexual assault is not a woman's fault. They are not to blame. Self-blame is a post sexual assault precursor to post traumatic stress, depression, etc. If the woman is not to blame, there can be no shame and therefore the threat of shame is rendered impotent.

Just an interesting observation when using the core of all learning - the identification of similarities and differences (see my The Science Behind All Fighting Techniques) - to gain insights into WSD instruction.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Why Doesn't Women's Self-Defence Teach Courage?

I'm currently working on the first draft of the last chapter in my book, Fear and Fight: Understanding Our Natural and Learned Responses to a Threat. That chapter uses the previous chapter's information on stress training and the discussion on our natural and learned responses to a threat to explore certain aspects of women's self-defence.

The first thing that always needs to be understood by 'Fight Activities' is why they teach to overcome fear. Fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. Why then do Fight Activities teach ways and means to overcome fear. It's because survival is not the principal objective of those Fight Activities.

To survive is to live in spite of danger or hardship. The quintessential laws of nature are: survival, survival, survival.Nature is prepared to tolerate rape in order to survive. WSD is not. Survival is promoted by fear, therefore, WSD teaches ways and means to overcome fear in order to avoid rape.

The principal strategy taught by WSD to overcome fear is to turn fear into anger. The action tendency of anger is fight. The automatic physiological reaction associated with anger prepares the body to fight and anger decreases our inhibition to aggress.

The principal strategy taught be the military in order to overcome fear and act on the battlefield is courage. To act in spite of fear. I have found it very interesting that the literature on WSD, including feminist literature, does not mention courage as a means for women to overcome fear if attacked in order to fight.

WSD teaches to turn fear into anger. It uses ways and means, including forms of exposure, to develop confidence which reduces or negates fear. It uses overlearning so that fight behaviour becomes the instinctive behavioural response to a threat. But there is no mention of courage; of acting in spite of fear.

Shame and the threat of shame are major ways and means used by the military to overcome fear in order to fight. That tends to lead to anger which, as said above, promotes fight behaviour. WSD do not tend to use the strategic use of shame or the threat of shame in order to overcome fear if attacked in order to fight. Shame is described as a possible outcome of a successful rape and a predictor of PTSD, but it's not used to promote defensive fight behaviour as is the case with the military.

I just find it interesting to compare the different approaches to overcome fear in order to fight.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

The same old lie that today sends men and women, boys and girls, to war.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Paradox of Anxiety for Law Enforcement and the Military

It is paradoxical that, law enforcement and military personnel run toward danger rather than away from it, act in spite of fear that naturally arises when exposed to danger, train to overcome fear in order to act, and yet they can be defeated by fear's close cousin (Lazarus and Lazarus, Passion and Reason), anxiety (disorder), which is elicited by no real threat.

Monday, January 7, 2019

I'll see you in Valhalla Annalise Braakensiek

Model, designer and actor Annalise Braakensiek has been found dead in her Sydney home.

Police went to her apartment in Potts Point just after 3pm yesterday after receiving concerned calls for her welfare.

The death is not suspicious.

Ms Braakensiek was made an R U OK? ambassador in 2017 and the organisation said she was "loved and respected".

Annalise Braakensie was a warrior. She fought the good fight against depression. She not only fought the good fight herself, she stood tall and encouraged others to fight the good fight. She was a a leader. But unfortunately she lost her fight. The enemy proved too strong.

Valete, socii mei! Farewell my comrade.

I do not suffer the black dog (depression). I suffer the Chicken Little (anxiety).

You cannot know the daily battle that is waged by us black dogs or Chicken Littles unless you suffer these conditions. 

We fight a relentless foe. If you are fortunate enough to not suffer these conditions; to not have to wage a daily battle against these determined foe, support those who do. Have their back. Stand side by side with them. Stand up for them. ... that means sacrifice and understanding. And not just for one battle, for these conditions may last for years which means they are a war. A war where the combatant is at risk of injury or death. Be their ally in this war. It'll cost you, but it'll be, as Stephen Fry said, the noblest thing that you'll ever do in your life.

Valete, socii mei Annalise Braakensiek. I'll see you in Valhalla.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Know Your Enemy - Anxiety

I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder when, ironically, researching and writing a book about the mechanism responsible for that disorder. The disorder is distressing and at times debilitating, but it did provide me with an opportunity to assess theory and gain insights into anxiety disorders.

Plutchik's psychoevolutionary theory of emotion proposes eight primary emotions which when combined produces other emotions. When fear and anticipation are combined they produce anxiety.

fear + anticipation = anxiety

That is how anxiety is often described when explaining anxiety disorders. Fear is an emotional response to an immediate present perceived threat whereas anxiety is an emotional response to an anticipated perceived threat.

As the stimulus comes closer in time and/or space, anxiety merges into fear. That is to say the anticipation element in the emotion equation lessens leaving only fear.

When your only left with fear and facing the immediate present stimulus which turns out not to be a threat at all, fear dissipates and equilibrium is restored.

I have lived this analysis and having lived it, and knowing how it works, enables me to better manage my impulses and 'act in spite of anxiety.'

Sometimes when I was invited to my adopted nieces home for dinner, everything in my being was trying to stop me from going. It took enormous will-power and often anger to get me to drive to their home, however, when I arrived at their door - nothing. No anxiety, no fear, no emotion. Equilibrium was restored because anticipation had dissipated and the stimulus proved not to be a threat after all.

Klein says insight is produced through identifying inconsistencies.

Sometimes when my anxiety levels are elevated, rather than feeling the urge to avoid the anticipated threat, I instead cannot wait to engage with it. This is akin to soldiers who are anxious to go to war, anxious to fight, anxious to 'let slip the dogs of war.' How do you explain this type of anxiety? The medical textbooks don't even mention this 'symptom' of anxiety.

The above equation provides a possible explanation.

Fear is a negative emotion with a withdrawal action tendency. Anticipation is a positive emotion with an approach action tendency. The normal anxiety is when fear is greater than anticipation.

fear > anticipation = withdrawal anxiety

When anticipation is greater than fear you have approach anxiety. Still anxiety but with a different action tendency and not as much distress.

fear < anticipation = approach anxiety

Both are symptoms of anxiety disorders, at least in my experience.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Saw an episode of Silent Witness last night were a highly acclaimed pathologist asked his class, attended by another highly acclaimed pathologist, and as a lesson, what 2 + 2 equals.

Come on. What does 2 + 2 equal? 4!

What does 4 equal? :)

Infinity. There are an infinite number of answers to 4.

It's not the answer that is important. It's the question that is important.

It's the questions where insight lies.

Too many in the martial arts are about answers. Very few are about questions. That's why so few in the martial arts have insights.