Thursday, April 19, 2018

Turn Fear Into Anger, Spite, Hate in Order to Turn Flight Into Fight

After submitting my manuscript, The Science Behind Fighting Techniques, to a publisher, I have been working on book #2, Fear and Fight: Understanding Our Natural and Learned Responses to a Threat. For the past few days I've been working on the chapter looking at an article about the strategic use of emotion to counter fear in war.

The five strategies in the paper are:

Changing terror back to fear through rational discourse.
The creation of anger.
The creation of spite.
Threat of shame.
Inculcation of hope.

The first strategy is not strictly a strategic use of emotion to counter fear in war. It is a distraction strategy to take your mind of the threat stimuli.

The other four strategies are about turning fear into another emotion that promotes fight behaviour rather than fight behaviour.

Emotion is not just a feeling state. It is a process whereby an appraisal elicits a subjective feeling that motivates an instinctive behaviour that an automatic physiological reaction prepares the body to enact. The output of the process is the effect on the stimulus in order to return to an equilibrium state.

Each of the four strategic uses of emotion to counter fear in war target the appraisal component of the emotion (survival) process. They are interventions in the appraisal component of the emotion (survival) process.

Turning fear into anger is taken straight from nature's playbook. Many people who refer to the fight-or-flight concept, including the authors of the paper under review, associate both fight and flight with fear. Why would you need to counter fear in war if fight is an instinctive behaviour associated with fear? The founder of the fight-or-flight concept associated flight with fear but fight with anger. It has been found that the first impulse when threatened is to flee and fight is only engaged in when flight has been obstructed. That is, in fact, what Sun Tzu and a general from the 30 year war suggested to do in order to get your soldiers to fight. Cut off all means of retreat. Burn bridges, boats, etc.

Lazarus and Lazarus refer to spite as being part of the 'anger family.' It is similar to anger in motivating fight behaviour but it is different in that is a different type of fight behaviour. Solomon warns against using spite as a strategic use of emotion to counter fear in war and to turn flight into fight because it is a 'malicious envy with a wicked twist.'

Plutchik's psychoevolutionary theory of emotion contains eight primary emotions and by combining them they produce different emotions. Fear and Anger are among the eight primary emotions.

Spite (contempt) = disgust + anger
Envy = sadness + anger
Outrage = surprise + anger
Aggression = anticipation + anger
Pride = joy + anger
Dominance = trust + anger

Welcome to the anger family. They all have a common parent, anger, and its action tendency of fight. What makes them different, and what makes the fight behaviour different with different goals is anger's 'mate.'

There is more to this, however, this is the insight I gained last night. By writing about it on this blog I am also delving deeper into the theory I am creating.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Anxiety and Courage

I'm working on book #2 which is about understanding our natural and learned responses to a threat.

Our natural response to a threat is fear. Fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. It is adaptive. However, with an anxiety disorder, fear becomes maladaptive.

The action tendency of fear is flight (or withdrawal). The military want fight. The go-to response for the military to overcome fear in war is courage.

Courage is most often defined in terms of acting in spite of fear.

I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Not pleasant to say the least, however, I use it to study the mechanism responsible for fear from the inside as well as outside.

I have the perfect storm going on. I am moving house and I have an anxiety condition. Anyone who tells you that anxiety is nervousness does not know what they are talking about. Anxiety can be debilitating, not allowing you to function. You can't breathe, you are petrified. Of what? Amygdala has identified a threat in the environment but does not necessarily tell neocortex what that threat is.

Back to courage. If courage is acting in spite of fear, and anxiety is fear of something that is not actually a threat, is acting in spite of something that is not actually a threat courage?

One of the chapters in my book looks at a paper on the strategic use of emotion to overcome fear in war. The first strategy is not actually a strategic use of emotion to overcome fear. It's the use of 'rational discourse,' but actually refers to distraction.

I put that strategy into action on Monday when I was having a panic attack. I watched the football game. It took a half of football before I could focus on the game, but it finally worked.

Another strategic use of emotion to overcome fear is the 'inculcation of hope.' I have studied hope and discuss it in my book. There is a calculus to hope. Hope = willpower to change something + waypower.

I operate on willpower and do not experience hope. Intellectually I know I can do something that I fear but that does not reach amygdala and so the emotion of hope is not elicited.