Saturday, January 29, 2005

flight or fight reactions

Although FDR is credited, it was Henry David Thoreau who first said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Thoreau was a conscientious objector to violence; FDR was trying to calm a populace facing war. Both, however, warned against fear.

I found many articles on fear, war, and "flight or fight" reactions. Among the readings, I appreciated the below paragraph from KILLOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP, as it seemed somewhat appropriate to most recent events.

Time can be a valuable survival mechanism. When our ancestors first heard a lion’s roar they had to think, if even for a millisecond, “Oh, so THAT is a lion, I’d better run.” Subsequently the processing of that stimulus (i.e., the lion’s roar) would bypass the forebrain and essentially go straight from ears to their feet, saving milliseconds and enhancing their survival in the process. Indeed, not just the lion’s roar, but the lion's smell, the nature of the terrain, that spot in the jungle, and that time of day might also all be processed. Subsequently, individuals might not even know what has set them off, but something caused anxiety, made the hair stand up on the back of their necks, and caused them to slink away quietly. Soldiers in combat soon learn (if they are lucky to survive long enough) to react reflexively to the earliest hint of the sound of incoming artillery, and even to distinguish between kinds of artillery and the variety of responses required for survival, all without ever engaging the forebrain.
Another interesting writing of interest from MILITARY REVIEW:
A Historical Perspective
Warfare has always been a human endeavor. In his study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme, John Keegan notes, "What battles have in common is human: the behaviour of men struggling to reconcile their instinct for self-preservation, their sense of honour and the achievement of some aim over which other men are ready to kill them. The study of battle is therefore always a study of fear and usually of courage." (3) However, the study of fear has more often been the purview of physicians and historians than military professionals. Officer corps have traditionally focused on questions of tactics, doctrine, materiel, and logistics.

Fear, defined as a physical and emotional response to a perceived threat or danger, was an important element of French Military thinker Colonel Charles Ardant du Picq's classic work, Battle Studies: Ancient and Modern Battle, on battlefield psychology. (4) Du Picq describes how fear and hesitation could decay offensive spirit and how courage was a "temporary domination of will over instinct" that was imperative for victory. Similarly, World War I Royal Fusiliers medical officer Lord Moran (Charles McMoran Wilson) saw fear as a "response of the instinct of self-preservation to danger," while courage was a "moral quality--a cold choice between two alternatives.... Courage is willpower." (5)

I beckon you to read on.


At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. -Eric Hoffer

The voting went surprisingly well. I am glad that yous are all right. Maybe I am wrong and this may turn out A OK! Take care over there.



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