We all react to threats differently

Hello Viper One Six readers!

I have not written a column for over a year as I have been engaged in some other writing endeavors. Namely, I had my first book published in late 2018 and since then my co-author, JT Taman, and I have been travelling around the U.S. on a book tour which was just absolutely amazing. Thanks to those local readers who supported me and sent kind comments to me via social media and our website.

What to write about? Let’s just dive into the obvious – the COVID-19 virus. As we all sort out how to handle this worldwide pandemic that seems destined to hit all too close to home it is daunting to handle the constant influx of information and news. Our elected officials are trying to calm all of us and at the same time trying to mitigate the threat. Our medical experts work around the clock to try to get out ahead of this life altering event. No doubt, for many reasons, this crisis is to be taken seriously.

Threats come in many forms and with many sub-layers and multi-order effects. Some threats are straight forward with a single angle of attack, if you will, that allow for a directed and focused defense and counter-attack to use military terminology. Others are more complex which make preparation and response far more challenging. No matter what type of threat we face, the often complicating component is how we, as humans, react to it.

Reacting to a threat and how people behave in uncertain times is an interesting subject and one of which that has been researched by scholars, and psychologists, and tacticians for years. Interesting to me is the Social Defense Theory (SDT, Ein-Dor et al, 2010) which has its roots in the Attachment Theory (Bowlby J. (1982). According to the Attachment Theory, human defensive reactions lie in our psycho-biological system.

When under threat or a perceived threat, individuals will feel a need for protection and care and consequently seek out care and protection from others. If the individual receives a positive response, then the individual feels secure and forms what is called Attachment Security, meaning the person feels secure which results in a higher self-esteem. These people tend to become leaders within a group and lead the group in defense of threats.

When an individual does not receive a positive response from another they instinctively develop one of two states of what is called Attachment Insecurity – that being Attachment Avoidance or Attachment Anxiety.

With Attachment Avoidance, the individual develops a lack of trust in others and consequently develops a pretense to security or more simply stated, the individual does not perceive threats accordingly and therefore does not implement defense mechanisms as a result. This type of person tends to be a loner and shrugs off the cohesive nature of a group. This is a negative attribute in the group setting but the positive side to this person is that they tend to be self-reliant and self-protective. This is the type of person who avoids a threat and looks for ways to elude it. Example being: a person in crowd at a large gathering and a threat emerges. That person looks for the quickest avenue of escape and takes it, perhaps only notifying those closest to him. It is good to remain in sync with these people because they can get you out of harm’s way in an instant.

With Anxiety Attachment, the individual is overly dependent upon others and at the same time develops a hyper-vigilance to threats. This type of individual tends to become the guardian or sentry – always on guard for approaching threats.

The Social Defense Theory submits that groups (AKA, families, employers, communities, regions, nations, etc.) work better if the group is made up of all three types of individuals – the Secure Leader, the Loner/Eluder, and the Sentry versus having homogeneous groups.

As we all make our way through these uncertain times full of multiple approaching threats – health, employment, financial, technology, etc. – and at the same time invoke Social Distancing, remember that all of us react to threats differently. Perhaps knowing these three types of Attachment Theory individuals we can bring our individual greatest strengths to bear against an incoming tide of uncertainty.


Viper One Six – Out

Dave Shearman is the author of Outside The Wire In Blue



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