Key Concepts

Here you you will find a brief explanation of some of the Key Concepts found in Facing Danger:

Acute Stress Response - the body's physical responses to immediate danger. originally described as fight or flight, but now describing a sequence of hierarchical body choices - focus, flight, fight, freeze.

Alexithymia - the inability put words to emotions

Amygdala - an organ within the Limbic System associated with the processing of emotion

Automacity - the degree to which action takes place spontaneously and without thought

Behavioural Approach - refers to the idea that it is better to ignore negative behaviour and reinforce positive behaviour. However, in the short term, ignoring behaviour leads to an increase in that behaviour.

Broken Record Technique - a skill drawn from assertiveness training which simply involves repeating the same statement

Catastrophic Reactions - similar to "temper tantrums" but occur when a person becomes highly confused and cannot understand what is happening to them.

Cathartic Approach - sometimes "the cathartic fallacy" refers to the discredited idea, in relation to aggression, that it is better to get it out of your system. If anything, the more anger you express, the more angry you get.

Command Hallucinations - powerful auditory hallucinations that bully the hearer to follow their instructions

Confusion - a state where a person is able to process the information that they are receiving. It is closely associated with panic and catastrophic reactions

De-escalating Skills - skills used as reactive aggression approaches the Dysphoric Crisis, but hasn't yet become violent

Defusing Skills - low level, good customer care skills used to minimise the risk of reactive aggression taking place

Difficult, Disturbing and Dangerous Behaviour- the training course that accompanies this book (

Dissociation - a disconnection between mind and body, like dreaming, hypnosis, and when we act without thought

Disturbed Aggression - aggression driven by some form of psychological disturbance - confusion, hallucinations, delusion or paranoia

Dysphoric Crisis - the Pivotal Point for Reactive Aggression. As the emotion and tension rises it becomes increasingly difficult to continue behaving in the same way as their cognitive faculties become impaired. This point is also sometimes referred to as the Vacuum because psychologically the demands increase upon the aggressor and their resources diminish, seconds can feel like an eternity and with nowhere to go. It is as if they are in a vacuum - and one that needs to be filled fast.

Emergency Psychological Processes - psychological processes that occur in parallel with the Acute Stress Response and including focussed attention, rapid processing of incoming data, deactivation of emotional responses, enhanced memory, state dependent learning and distorted perception of time.

Empathy - the ability to put oneself in someone else's shoes and relate to how they feel.

Focussing Response - the first reaction preceding the Acute Stress Response and the Emergency Psychological Processes

Frontal Cortex- the thinking part of the brain

Front-end Skills - skills used immediately as a crisis occurs and before thought takes place. They are largely designed to manage one's own body reaction and avoid actions that might increase personal danger.

Hippocampus - a part of the Limbic System responsible for declarative memory. This is where the Survival Schemas - in particular, the Rapid Reaction Skills - will be stored.

Hypothalamus- the part of the brain that sends hormonal signals from the brain to the body. In terms of danger, it will send those signals to the adrenal glands where adrenaline and cortisol - the stress hormones - will prepare the body for action.

High Road - a term used by LeDoux to describe a neural pathway involving activation of the frontal cortex that allows us to think before we act. This is a sophisticated but slow process.

Implicit Association Tests - a series of tests to reveal biases that we may not think we have. Unlike psychometric tests these are not influenced by knowing the right answers and can be undertaken freely and anonymously online.

Implied Suggestions - an under the radar skill used to suggest that someone might already be complying with a demand without actually saying so. In the context of responding to violence, it is used alongside the Broken Record Technique and simply involves the words, "that's it" or "good" or "thanks"

Instant Aggression Model - the model underpinning this book which analyses an aggressive or violent act as it happens rather than how it might be understood in review.

Lima Syndrome - the mirror image of the Stockholm Syndrome where abusers become attached to those they abuse

Limiting - a non-verbal skill of placing limits on group behaviour from an internal locus of control

Low Road - a term coined by LeDoux to describe a neural pathway short-circuiting the Frontal Cortex and activating the Limbic System directly. This allows us to act without thought. This is a fast but rough and ready route.

MAPPA - the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements used for monitoring dangerous offenders in the community.

Modulating - a non-verbal skill aimed at sending signals out to group members approval or otherwise of group activity

Mood-matching - the idea that communication flows best between people who are at the same emotional level. Not to be confused with mirroring the same behaviour.

Parasympathetic Nervous System - the part of the central nervous system activated when getting ready to attack. It is like the body's braking system.

Passivity Experiences- a psychotic state, usually associated with schizophrenia, where a person believes their behaviour is being controlled by someone else.

Patterning - a non-verbal skill aimed at arranging the interactions in a group setting such that you are at the hub of those interactions

Pivotal Point - the point where the aggressor's behaviour is in the balance between escalating and perpetrating aggression. At this point it may take very little to tilt the behaviour either way.

Proactive Aggression - purposeful or instrumental aggression where the aggression is deliberately perpetrated to achieve a goal

Psychopathic Crisis - the Pivotal point for Proactive Aggression. This is the point where threats and intimidation no longer feel sufficient to achieve their goal, and violence is chosen as the best way to that end.

Psychosis Containment Skills - skills used to contain disturbed aggression. These build upon and supplement Rapid Reaction Skills.

Psychotic Crisis - the Pivotal Point for Disturbed Aggression. As the psychosis takes over the aggressor becomes less able to resist the hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.

Rapid Cognition - the ability to make very fast but accurate judgments based on very little information

Rapid Reaction Skills - these are the skills used to manage reactive aggression at the Dysphoric Tilt and require safe but reflexive responses.

Reactive Aggression - aggression driven by emotion - anger, upset, annoyance, humiliation, fear etc

Somatosensory Cortex - the part of the cortex that picks up what is happening in the body.

State-dependent Learning - the observation that learning is recalled and reactivated in the physical, emotional and psychological states that it was learned in.

Stockholm Syndrome - sometimes referred to as "sympathy with the perpetrator" and relates to the way in which people can become attached to their abuser.

Survival Schema - sets of skills that are activated in a crisis and involve no thought.

Sympathetic Nervous System - the part of the central nervous system activated when under threat. It is like the body's accelerator.

Thalamus - the part of the brain assisted with selective attention. It selects, prior to cognition, which signals from our sensory receptors we should think about, which we should ignore, and which should activate an emergency response

Thin Slicing - reference to the way in which it is possible to make rapid and accurate judgments based on very little information, often faster than you can think. Of course you have to "thin slice" the right information for processing, otherwise it's just prejudice.

Thought Broadcasting - a psychotic belief that others can read your thoughts and know what you are thinking

Thought Insertion - a psychotic belief that others are putting thoughts into your head

Thought Withdrawal - a psychotic belief that others are taking thoughts away from you

Tonic Immobility - the "freeze" state, analogous with "playing dead" or being caught in the headlights.

Trauma: Type One - the response to recent one-off overwhelming violations, often resulting in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Trauma: Type Two - the response to a ongoing continuing violations, usually in childhood, leading to Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.

Trauma: Type Three - the response to many different violations over a period of time

Under the Radar Skills - skills that seek to change behaviour without the other person being aware that their behaviour is being changed.

Word Salad - reference to the jumbled conversation of someone in a psychotic state. There is a very loose association of ideas and one thought leads onto another where to the onlooker there is very little connection.