There’s a large part of my self defense seminar that I devote to understanding the adrenaline response.
You need to understand how people react to adrenaline for two reasons. First and foremost, if you’re ever in a violent situation– or ever in a situation that is likely to hurt or injury you– you’re going to have an adrenaline response, and you better know how to deal with it. Second, if you can recognize the adrenaline response in a potentially violent person, you’ll better know to avoid that person or how to deal with them if you can’t avoid them. I also like to dispel the myths about adrenaline– I’ve had people tell me that they don’t need to be physically fit or know how to fight because the adrenaline will get them through any life or death situation they end up in.
There are different levels of “adrenalization.” Most people are familiar with mild levels, the type you get while watching a scary movie, riding a rollercoaster, or during a competition. The mild adrenaline response helps put you “in the zone;” your muscles are ready to move, you have slightly elevated heart and breathing rate, and you’re alert, aware and focused.
A moderate reaction is what you might get if a boisterous thug tried to start a fight with you in a public place, or if you were in a non life-threatening car wreck. You will get some of the benefits of the mild response, plus some side effects, such as tunnel vision and focused hearing, memory distortion, degraded complex motor skills, and/or a feeling of things moving in slow motion (called tachypsychia).
More severe side effects include complete freezing, random irrelevant thoughts intruding, behavioral looping, vomiting, and loss of bowel/bladder control.
Most people haven’t had experience with moderate or severe adrenalization, which leads them to think that they perform better under stress. The Yerkes-Dodson Law, the result of numerous studies on people’s reaction to stress, shows that ability to perform tasks increases during the mild stage, then rapidly decreases as adrenalization becomes more severe. The truth is that under real stress, you perform worse.
And, even if you did only have a mild reaction and got the benefit from it, it’s important to remember that bad guys have adrenaline too.
Come to the Self Defense Seminar on February 16th and learn a bit more about adreanaline, and how you can use it to your advantage.