Physiological Reactions !

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Get Two Guns...Luke 22: 35-38

Physiological Reactions To A Gun Fight!

    Physiological Reactions: Tachy Psyche—Speed of Mind. A condition that takes place in the mind and body when a person is placed under extreme stress, as in a lethal (deadly) confrontation. In our defensive combat hand gun training, we must address and train for these changes that occur in our body during such a period that lasts for only a few minutes during times of stress.

    Dr. Marieb, 3rd ed., (p. 473) writes in Human Anatomy and Physiology, "In fact, it is estimated that circulating adrenal medullary hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) produce 25% to 50% of all the sympathetic effects acting on the body at a given time. These effects continue for several minutes until the hormones are destroyed by the liver. Thus, although sympathetic nerve impulses act only briefly, the hormonal effects they provide linger. The widespread and prolonged effect of sympathetic activation helps explain why we need time to ‘come down' after an extremely stressful experience."

    Guyton & Hall, writing in Textbook of Medical Physiology, 9th ed., do not say it as poignant or powerful as Marieb, but they do say that norepinephrine and epinephrine secreted from the adrenal medulla"remain active for 10 to 30 seconds, and then their activity declines, becoming much weaker for 1 to several minutes (p. 772)." And on page 776, they write "In summary, stimulation of the adrenal medullae causes the release of hormones that have almost the same effects throughout the body as direct sympathetic (nerve) stimulation, except that the effects are greatly prolonged, 1 to 2 minutes after the stimulation is over." This is reinforced on page 780: "Norepinephrine and epinephrine have actions as short as 1 to 2 minutes…."

    From this, we can see, especially from Elaine N. Marieb's writing, that during times of stress, in this case, someone trying to kill us, the effects of the stress will be horrendous, the neural effects lasting briefly, but the hormonal effects much longer.

    The Tachy–Psyche Effect will take place in practically anyone placed under great stress. You can't stop it, but you can minimize certain manifestations of it through training. This is why your training will constantly reinforce how to minimize the physiological and psychological effects of excessive stress during Advanced Combat Pistol Self–Defense Training. The psychological effects generally entail the aftermath of such an encounter. We will touch on this and what to do as we progress throughout the course. This was given extensively in your earlier training.

Some Physiological Reactions:

  • Loss of fine Motor (muscle) Skills or Control:

    Fine movements of the fingers and hands are degraded most of all. Under stress, you greatly lose physical coordination that you would normally have. When a defensive technique requires you to perform finely coordinated movements with your fingers, such as locating and operating small buttons and levers, that procedure will probably break down under combative stress. Thus you want to incorporate the larger, stronger muscular movements into your combat reloading, stances, movement, and shooting repertoire.

  • Tunnel Vision:

    Under stress, your attention will be focused on the source of danger to the complete exclusion of everything else. You will not be aware of the danger to the sides and rear of you. This is why you must move your left to right or right to left, and look in/over your backside, periodically when practicing shooting. Shoot the threat(s); look; then, quickly to left, right; then over right shoulder; then, left shoulder.

  • Auditory Exclusion:

    Under stress, sounds will be blocked out because your concentration is so intense on the source of danger. You will not be aware of instructions shouted at you by an adjacent companion, nor will you hear his shots. Your shots will sound distant and muffled. As in tunnel vision, twisting your head side to side helps in restoring auditory function as well as shouting any commands to source of danger.

  • Skewed Perception of Time or Space–Time Distortion:

    Stress will distort your perception of time and space. Events will appear to take place more slowly or in slow motion, making you think you have more time than you do. Be aware of this. For instance, you may think you shot only three bullets, but actually shot more. Thus, if you think you shot only three rounds, multiply it by three and that is approximately how much you fired under stress Space–Time Distortion, 3 x 3 = 9, and thus your weapon is most likely out of ammunition. Reload not when you have to. Reload when there is a lull in the battle!

    Objects will appear closer than they actually are. Your recollection of distances and times may differ greatly from that of other witnesses, even when there is no attempt on anyone's part to be untruthful. Therefore volunteer no information, written or verbal, about a lethal confrontation which involves you until you see your attorney; Simply say "I don't know," and you don't know. Let the facts speak for themselves. Also, information provided by "eye–witnesses" is often wrong. The sudden stress placed them also under this element of Tachy–Psyche. You want a good 'expert witness' on guns and Tachy Psyche! Have this witness explain to your lawyer about this so he can do his best in court should it get that far. In the meantime, learn to Shut–Up! Yes! That is you and me!

    Talk to yourself about this out loud. You learn through recall and hearing it verbally. Innocent people are sitting in prison today because they talked too much! Shut–Up! You are building Mind–Set.

    If you have to speak, state only what happened. Do not volunteer information or embellished information given in any way. State what happened and let the crime scene support your statements.

  • Critical Decision Making is degraded. As stress ↑; reasoning ↓ .

    Under severe stress, normal intellectual processes become impossible, and the mind automatically defaults to its most primitive and basic responses (primal). In training, since this is so, we present the least number of electives. Options, variations, and decisions, are reduced to the absolute minimum. This reduces vacillation, hesitation, and panic.

  • Muscles Get Stronger. Some writers of combat gunning misinterpret this and say "the muscles tighten." Anatomy and physiology textbooks say opposite.


Beta Blockers dampen down the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, many physicians do not know the ramifications of this:

Beta Blockers damp down memory.

Do you want someone staying with you during the coming chaos who is on beta–blockers? It could cost you your life, when you depend on someone, yourself included, to have epinephrene (adrenaline) to function from. Short–term memory in these individuals in a life or death situation just may not be there and this could get you killed.

Beta Blockers dampen down Short–Term Memory!

See: Stress and Your Body, Professor Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University, pp. 199–200. The Great Courses by The Teaching Company.

Sources: NRA Personal Protection Course, PP. I–12/I–13; The Street Smart Gun Book, by John Farnam, pp. 34–36; Video by Farnam; Marieb's anatomy and physiology text book; Guyton & Hall, 9th ed., textbook. Textbooks listed above; years of training as a biologist/human biochemists, researcher, etc.

"Remember! Do Not Let The Threat Get Between You And Your Gun!"

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