Analyzing Fear
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"The mind should be nowhere in particular."

Takuan

Introduction

Fear is nothing more than an emotional response to a perceived threat (real or imagined, tangible or ethereal). It is an unpleasant, natural sensation that is experienced by everyone in a lethal confrontation. Fear only becomes a problem when we allow it to interfere with the ability to perform effectively. Otherwise, fear is an effective asset. It is the body's way of protecting itself--speeding up adrenaline flow to the muscles and increasing sensitivity and awareness. An act of bravery and courage comes not from a lack of fear but from the control of fear.


The Two Types of Fear

There exist two types of fear:

  1. Reasonable Fear

    Reasonable fear is a controlled, legitimate, and manageable emotion. It is the mechanism that is necessary to protect oneself based on true circumstances.

  2. Unreasonable Fear

    Unreasonable fear is imagined with no correlation to the given facts and to situations. It is often based on prejudice (e.g. racial fear, gang members, police officers, etc.) or culturally based due to lack of understanding of customs, traditions, and cultural nuances. It can be imagined fear of physical harm, fear of using force when it is necessary and justified, positional fear (not taking responsibility to make critical decisions during an incident), psychological fear (paranoia), or fear of peer disapproval.


The Eight Phases of Fear

When faced by a lethal (threat level 4) situation, FASST/Dux Ryu identifies eight phases of fear that one must acquire the skill sets (as laid out in FASST/Dux Ryu Fear Management Chapter 1-1-7) to work through. Otherwise, one can potentially end up becoming the proverbial "deer frozen in the headlights." The eight phases of fear are listed below and should be committed to memory, since fear can not only work against us but, for us as well.

  1. Perception of Fear
    • The situation is escalating
    • Body and mind become alert
    • Fight or flight response activates
    • Determine the threat level
  2. Vulnerability
    • Shock factor
    • Lack of control
    • Mortality awareness awakened
    • Disbelief and denial
    • Need to focus on survival and to gain control over fear, manifesting itself in anger and outrage
  3. Decisiveness
    • The will to survive and overcome conflict
    • The degree of reality of the threat recognized
  4. Survival Mode
    • Senses keenly amplified to be aware of external influences
  5. Tactical Response
    • Most effective strategy and tactics are triggered
  6. Resolution
    • Commitment to action determined
  7. Action
    • Responding with the correct action
  8. Final Assessment
    • An examination and evaluation of one's actions
    • The cause and effect of aggressor's death
    • Attack of conscience
    • Fear of retribution
    • Fear of legal prosecution, etc.
The Power of Fear

A Zen master went out for a walk with one of his pupils and pointed out a fox chasing a rabbit.

"According to an ancient fable, the rabbit will get away from the fox," exclaimed the master.

"Not so," replied the student. "The fox is faster."

"But the rabbit will elude him," insisted the master.

"Why are you so certain?" asked the student, perplexed.

"Because the fox is running for its dinner and the rabbit is running for its life," answered the master.