Sunday, December 20, 2015

Criminologist Proves My Point

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I exchanged messages with a professional criminologist today. Let's just refer to her as LS to protect her reputation.

I'd contacted LS to possibly exchange ideas after she posted a comment on the ABC website concerning domestic abuse and identified herself as a professional criminologist in order to give credibility to her views. It was because of that I contacted her in order to discuss and explore certain matters.

In my original email I explained that in my book I explain how many activities associated with violence refer to the fight-or-flight concept and how their understanding of FoF is limited and flawed as is the concept itself. She took exception to that:

LS: Fight or flight isn't flawed, it's a very real concept.

FoF is a real concept. I'm not disputing that. What I am suggesting, and which LS clearly demonstrated, is that most people's understanding of FoF is limited and flawed as is the concept itself.

Most people who refer to FoF do so in reference to fear and attribute both instinctive survival behaviours to fear, however, Walter Cannon, the founder of the FoF concept associated flight with fear but fight with anger. This small but important detail is often overlooked. It is important because if instinctive fight behaviour was associated with fear then there would be no need to develop ways and means to counter fear if fight behaviour was the desired behaviour.


LS: Anger doesn't activate flight or fight. I suggest that you do so,e (sic) proper empirical research instead of just relying on some guy's book.

The 'guy's book' I am relying on is Walter Cannon's, the guy would developed the FoF concept. The title of his book first published in 1915 indicates the association of FoF with anger and fear: 
Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage.

LS: No psychology text I have ever read talks about anger activating fight or flight.

LS is proving my point about the flawed understanding of the FoF concept that many/most people have.

FoF only offers two instinctive survival behaviours, however, that has been criticised in recent times. Read 'Does "Fight or Flight" Need Updating?' by Bracha et al. The updating they are referring to is in terms of the limited number of instinctive survival behaviours the FoF model provides. And even their updates are limited.

 LS:  Fight or flight is gender neutral. I'll stick to academic texts thanks. Don't think I can help you, sounds like you need to do more research.

I referred LS to Dr Shelley Taylor and her associates paper that attempt to update FoF for gender. They suggest that FoF is a male concept and most research on the concept has been done on male subjects, animal and human. The propose a female alternative, tend-and-befriend. They argue that females have different behavioural responses to a threat because they have had different evolutionary pressures.

Is Psychological Review a sufficient academic resource? The research came out of the University of California (UCLA). Is that sufficient credibility?

LS: Tend and befriend is not a concept I ever came across in my studies, ever.

Again, kind of proving my point.

LS: Fight or flight is a physiological response of the autonomic nervous system. Different behaviours may manifest when one experiences fight or flight, but it doesn't change the chemistry of the physiological response.

The stress discipline through the work of the founder of the stress concept, Hans Selye, hijacked the FoF concept and turned the focus off survival and the three components in our evolved survival mechanism and onto the effects of the FoF physiological response on health and later performance.

Cannon got it wrong. He describes two emotions that motive two different instinctive survival behaviours but only one physiological reaction. What colour does a person's face turn when scared or angry? The different colours indicate different physiological reactions are being experienced when different emotions are being experienced. The different physiological reactions are explained in terms of the different action tendencies associated with the different emotions. 

The FoF physiological reaction is a fear physiological reaction, and then only for a small part of the fear spectrum. FoF is associated with with increased sympathetic nervous system activation when fear is experience, however, another behaviour that Bracha (alone) identified as an instinctive survival behaviour is faint. Faint is associated with extreme fear but the parasympathetic nervous system dominates the SNS resulting in 'shut down.'

Taylor explains that the different gender responses to a threat, tend-and-befriend for females, is also physiological related. She explains that the same physiological reactions occurs for females as it does for the males (FoF) but when the hormones react with the sex hormones different results occur.

LS: Whatever man, I know what fof is I don't need schooling.

Again, proving my point. I really gotta get my work out there to 'school' people like LS (a professional criminologist).  

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