Recall from the last couple of blogs that I'm looking at whether or not our evolved fight response in Cannon's fight-or-flight is associated with fear. Cannon associated fight with anger, but those activities associated with preparing a person to survive a violent encounter (e.g. military CQC, law enforcement physical methods, martial arts, self-defence, and in particular women's self defence) who refer to fight-or-flight tend only to refer to fear. This should not be surprising given they are referencing the work of the stress discipline to inform their understanding. Stress is associated with anxiety (a close cousin of fear) and fear, either as a stimuli or a response, or as a stimuli, part of the stress process, or the output of the stress process.
While researching today, I came across a book review by Dr. Sergio Pellis, Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He reviewed FEAR AND DEFENSE, edited by Paul F. Brain, Stefano Parmigiani, Robert Blanchard, and Danillo Mainardi. London: Hawood Academic Publishers, 1990.
Blanchard distinguishes between two types of attack behaviours: defensive attack and offensive attack. Defensive attack is associated with high levels of fear, while offensive attack is associated with anger.
Where does fear fit into this schema? Clearly, the implication in the title of this book is that 'fear' and defense go together and that such systems should be differentiated from aggression. ... But do you really have to be afraid in order to defend yourself? This question is rarely asked and is never adequately addressed.This question is precisely the question I'm asking now. I would have to agree with Pellis though, it is a question that appears to never be adequately addressed.
Nonetheless, the question of whether it is necessary to be afraid in order to defend yourself remains unanswered.Yes it does remain unanswered, however, at the very least I'm researching the question and bringing the issue to the attention of those who use fight-or-flight in a practical way - to better prepare a person to survive a violent encounter.
Interestingly, Pellis is an aikidoka (aikido practitioner). I obviously have a background in martial arts. Does this background predispose us to apply the theoretical to the practical and ask: is our evolved fight behavioural response associated with fear as many, academics and non-academics, would suggest?
Again, in reference to martial arts, the vast amount of training is designed so that defensive movements become automatic responses, in that they can occur independently of autonomic reactions and thoughts characteristic of fear. That is, you can block a blow that comes to within a few centimeters of your nose without having your heart thumping like crazy. I can certainly imagine that no matter how effectively I defend myself from a street mugger, I would certainly experience 'fear'.Certainly experience fear? Sergio, my Beyond Fight-of-Flight investigates the fight-or-flight concept based on my attempt to understand why I did not experience fear when I was attacked by a knife-wielding attacker on a train in the south of France. It investigates why I didn't experience fear, nor any of the physiological responses that, according to Siddle, would cause catastrophic deterioration of my motor and cognitive functions, which decrease my combat effectiveness. Do not immediately assume you will experience fear when involved in an aggressive or violent encounter. I had only 3-4 years training when I had my knife attack. Don't be so sure you would have experienced fear - trained or untrained.
Why bother? I can hear that question being asked by the very same people who will refer to this knowledge to provide support for their own methods. Grossman, in On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace, states that 'just as a fireman has to know all about fire, you have to know all about violence.'Agreed! But does focusing on fear-based responses allow you to know all about violence? Good God no. This fear-based understanding is obtained by one of the blindmen who are attempting to describe an elephant by touching just one part of the beast. That blindman is the stress discipline: Each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong, though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!In Beyond Fight-or-Flight, I'm trying to gather all the blindmen's observations and present a more complete picture of the violence/combat elephant.