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“Knowing is not enough, we must apply, willing is not enough,WE MUST DO”. -Goeth

Survival Stress, sometimes called fear induced stress, is caused by hormonal changes brought on by the perception of danger. The hormones cause an elevated heart rate that effect a person’s cognitive decision making skills. There are four instinctual reactions to fear-induced stress:

  • Fight 
  • Flight
  • Posture
  • Submit

During a violent encounter, survival stress occurs in both offender and victim.

When a human being is faced with a physically or emotionally threatening situation, the body adapts to help react more effectively to the threat by releasing adrenaline and other hormones.
By knowing what is happening to one’s own body during and after survival stress including physiological changes, motor performance changes, visual performance changes, cognitive changes, and critical incident amnesia.

Physiological Changes- The heart rate and respiration increase. Vascular flow moves away from the extremities. The body pulls the blood away from the arms and legs into the torso. This keeps the blood near vital organs in case of emergency and also protects the arms and legs from losing too much blood in case of injury.

Hearing is diminished- this is known as Auditory Exclusion.

Motor Performance Changes

There is a loss of fine motor skills at a heart rate of approximately 115 beats per minute. Fine Motor skills refer to the muscle control required to make small precise movements such as opening a car with car keys under stress.

There is a loss of complex motor skills at a heart rate of approximately 145 beats per minute. Complex motor skills combine fine and gross motor skills using hand and eye coordination timed to a single event.

Gross motor skills are enhanced as the heart reaches 150 beats per minute.
Gross motor skills are the movements of the large or major muscles of the body, such as running, punching, or kicking.

Catastrophic motor skill breakdown may occur when the heart rate exceeds 175 beats per minute.

There may be an increase in strength and speed for a short period of time.

The heart rate may spike during a violent encounter to well over 200 beats per minute.

Visual performance changes:

Binocular vision is dominant. Both eyes remain open and it is very difficult to close just one eye.

There is a loss of peripheral vision and depth perception; this is known as TUNNEL VISION.

There is a loss of near vision. This is one reason that most people involved in shootings never see the sights of their firearms. Physiologically, it is nearly impossible to focus.