Thursday, September 20, 2007

More on Heart and Freezing

These are works in process, more questions than answers, so take them for what they are worth. In the last post I talked about heart or spirit as the ability to act and the fact that it is a quality easier detected in its absence than in its presence. We know when people run or freeze or frenzy... we rarely know why they didn't. If anywhere, heart is in those 'whys'.

But everyone freezes. Do a search for "Half-Second Freeze" and look at the post of that name (the new program doesn't seem to allow me to link to a single archived post). I still freeze sometimes. One of the things I teach is how to break out of a freeze 'cause I've done it so often in so many different circumstances. Everyone freezes if the circumstances are right and even the most hardened veteran still harbors a fear he will freeze again, and maybe next time just a little too long.

Maybe if we look at the ways we freeze?

The OO bounce. Search for the posts on the OODA loop, especially 'OODA Introduction' and 'OODA Insights'. If information/stimulus/action is coming too fast to grasp it, if you never finish Orienting before another action that is Observed happens, you brain freezes. This is reliable as hell... except through training, luck or conditioning I have a habit of shutting down stimulus that overwhelms me. The fact that you are in an OO freeze becomes an Observation itself with a programmed Decision and Action. It works but... there is no guarantee that multiple sources of stimulus or novel types of stimulus won't overwhelm it. So, in a limited way, you might be able to train this one.

Novelty. The inability to Orient at all. If you see something and can't tell what it is, you can't Orient so you can't Decide so you don't Act. This alone accounts for the reason why veterans freeze less than rookies and recover sooner... but there is no one who has 'seen it all', there's too much 'all' out there, so everyone is vulnerable. Combat non-sequitors are another level of this- present something so unusual that the Orient stage takes more time and you buy a little freeze. Feinting on another level does the same thing, the person must Orient to whether the attack is real or a distraction. Training and experience work for this one, but only to an extent. There are things so big and bad (or just weird) that you won't be ready for them. Boxing match does not equal soccer riot does not equal firefight.

Lack of Confidence. A big one but vague. If you don't believe you can prevail, you probably won't try. Losing can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Most insiduous are the people who were taught as children that failure was inevitable so trying was stupid. Many people are dealing with that lesson, and losing to it, well into their adult life. I almost wish this one wern't so easy to alter. There is almost no correlation between confidence and actual ability. I want to believe "train the skills and trust the skills" but I know damn well that a cult leader personality can turn a mouse into a fighter much faster than I can.. and much, much faster than they can learn the skills to be successful fighters. High confidence and low skills never ends well.

Permission. Read the post on "The Big Three". Simply, most people have never worked out what they are willing to do and when and why. They have glitches and inhibitions and issues that they are not aware of. Who ever says there are no rules in a street fight is an idiot. There are layers and layers of unconscious rules, some social and some genetic, that I am just beginning to unravel. Until you have identified and faced your unconscious rule sets you will have freezes that you are not aware of. Can this be trained? Perhaps in some deep psychological counseling way. A good instructor may notice some glitches in training and bring it out in to the light. That may be enough to fix them and it may not. Some permission glitches are ugly: the bank manager in the last post didn't want to be rude. Compare that to "Betrayed by the Angel" where the author was brutally raped ...partially because she didn't want to be rude. Experience again can break part of the permission freeze. For some people things like killing or fighting that were very hard the first time become easier the second, third fourth... time. NOT (IMO) because they have changed their internal rules. It just gets easier. I think the ones who suffer the most never address the rules (and it is the rules, again in my opinion, that are a big part of the pain). The ones who examine their rules and permissions- "this is normally bad but under these circumstances it was necessary, just and good." Recover better. Maybe.

The Looking Glass. This is related to Permission, probably a subset of it, but worth looking at. There's a post on this, too "Through the Looking Glass". Simply, we all have skills in conflict management that have worked for us all our lives. But there are situations and types of violence where those skills and rules don't apply. Nothing you learned about managing dinner table arguments with your fractious family will help you in an ambush. Nothing you learned about protesting corruption will help you in a gang stomping. Those are social skills that rely on something resembling a society. When those rules go out the window, almost all of those skills are counter productive. There is no win/win solution or teaming strategy in a torture/murder/rape- trying only identifies you as a compliant 'good' victim. The Looking Glass freeze comes from the inability to tell when you have crossed the line and are no longer working under the rules or even in the world that you are used to. This is the "Why is this happening to me?" freeze. The "What do they want" and "But I haven't done anything wrong!" freezes. Training? I think you can teach about this one. Once aware, it's not that hard to recognize. Permission to act then becomes a separate issue. How to act becomes a third.

These are off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more.

To the issue of 'heart' it seems more and more that is a fuzzy word, not an absolute and maybe not a quality at all. There are certainly limits to it.

More to think about.

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