Sunday, March 5, 2017

Psychological warfare in self defense

Psychological warfare is defined as the use of psychology to evoke a psychological response in an enemy to influence his/her behavior, thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and beliefs. Psychological warfare has been used in warfare for centuries to demoralize the enemy. While many techniques and methods have been used at a national level, some are applicable to the individual. I will give you some tips and techniques used in psychological warfare that you could use in the face of overwhelming odds such as multiple attackers.

* Use intimidating body language - People mistakenly believe a battle starts as soon as the first hit is thrown. In reality, it starts beforehand with body language. A potential attacker is assessing whether you pose a huge threat or are just a victim. If you project confidence in the face of potential danger, you communicate to your potential attackers that you aren't weak and submissive. You don't want to be too intimidating or you may be perceived as a threat. Even in a potentially violent confrontation, show no emotion or weakness. This will hopefully cause your enemy to back away.

* Use camouflage or a menacing appearance - In ancient times, warriors would use facepaint and masks evoking supernatural beings to intimidate their enemies. Modern soldiers use camouflage to make themselves invisible to the enemy. This is a form of psychological warfare as enemy targets cannot see their attackers but their attackers can see them. In some situations, you will be able to camouflage yourself and put on an intimidating appearance.    

* Shock and awe - The shock and awe military strategy involves the use of overwhelming power or display of forces to destroy it's will to fight. If you destroy your enemy's confidence to win a fight then you weaken his or her morale and thus he or she will flee. This is why in some cases where armed robbers invaded a home, the owners came charging with swords and yelling to create fear. What was the psychological effect? The robbers were confident in the use of guns but when they saw someone wielding a melee weapon and putting on a great display of strength, that confidence was shattered. You can create shock and awe by roaring like an animal, snarls, growls, laughter, causing as much damage to your opponents, or other means of intimidation (1).  

* Demoralization - This is the systematic method of breaking your enemy's will to fight. When you are faced with multiple attackers, always take out the most powerful ones first. Once the leaders of the pack are injured or dead, the rest will become demoralized. This method was used by the U.S media published a photo of Osama Bin Laden's corpse to demoralize the will of Islamic terrorists to fight. Another way you can demoralize your enemies is through grappling holds or knocking the wind out of them.

* Instill fear and doubt - In order to instill fear and doubt in the minds of your enemies, you must have strong mental fortitude. Show nothing but pure strength. Don't show a hint of weakness regardless of what your enemies use against you. If you get hit with the most devastating attacks, shrug them off as if nothing happened. Channel pain into anger and motivation to attack with more force. If you are being haunted down against men intending on killing you, become the hunter and leave each one half-dead. Vlad the Impaler left his enemies impaled on poles as they suffered a slow death to send a strong psychological message. Make them feel like prey rather than predators.

* Use your enemy's values and beliefs to your advantage - This involves using what your enemy values be it religion, people, money, etc. and using them as shields as you attack. For example, Cambyses 2 knew that the Egyptians revered cats especially their goddess so he had his men paint her face on their shields. He also lined up cats and more revered animals in the front lines. The Egyptians fled in terror and were massacred in the process (2).

* Fight dirty - Fighting dirty is an effective means of intimidating your opponents. Using headbutts, biting, and doing whatever it takes to survive even if you damage yourself in the process shows that you are dangerous.

* "Borrow a corpse to resurrect the soul" - According to the 36 Chinese stratagems, you should take an institution, a technology, a method, an ideology lost in ancient history and modify it for application in modern combat. For example, the Aztecs liked to use death whistles which mimicked the sound of a thousand corpses. Anyone who heard them entered in a trance-like state and would be terrified (3). If you could somehow use a similar device from the past such as the death whistle for a specific purpose (ex. a distraction) then it will give you the upperhand.

* Use deception - In ancient warfare, people would often deceptively make their armies appear bigger than they actually were. These kinds of psychological operations still exist today. If you know how to use the environment to your advantage, you might be able to trick your enemy into believing you are more powerful than you truly are.

* Destroy a group from the inside out - When you are captured or faced with overwhelming odds, disrupt the organization from within. Divert your enemy's hate and anger on a new target, namely the leader of your multiple attackers (4). This method of psychological method was used effectively by the U.S military as depicted in this documentary. Suppose you are captured and notice a leader mistreat one of his men. You need to get his goon to channel hate and anger towards the leader, turning your attackers against each other.

* Be unpredictable - If you establish a pattern that is too predictable, your enemy will see through it and ruin your plans. Appear strong when you are weak and weak when you are strong.

* Pretend you know something your enemy doesn't - You can do this through body language such as smiling when you are fighting. This may cause your enemy to be uneasy as you give off the impression you found a weakness in his or her defenses.  

* Use threats - When you are fighting multiple opponents or one who is prone to being intimidated by threats, threaten them. Make sure that you already established credibility in order to make your threats effective. If your threats aren't credible enough, your opponents will call you out on your bluff. When you proved you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk then you will cause discomfort. Some attackers may flee to avoid getting hurt.





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  1. Psychological warfare can include softening techniques as well. Blasting loud speaker music to disrupt the thinking patterns of an enemy by overloading their ability to think critically. This softening can be exploited later to deliver a message or to reduce the enemies ability to mount an effective defense.

  2. Very good points! If you can break the enemy's concentration, that gives you an opportunity to attack when he or she is unprepared. Thanks for pointing that ou .