Human beings are biologically wired so they can react to ensure survivor in dangerous situations. In hostile situations, we rapidly scan our surroundings and our natural alarm system is automatically activated. When we are exposed to danger a set of reaction patterns are automatically triggered: escape, resist, become paralyzed, submit, cling to others. These reactions can be life-saving, but at times also poorly adapted to present-day challenges. However, with competence increases the probability of making make informed choices and the chance for choosing the right path of action.
Acts of terror are meant to make us scared. However, it is up to ourselves to decide how frightened we are going to be.
Lars Weisæth, researcher in terrorism
Studies of terror attacks show that affected can experience both fear and anger in a hostile situation. Even if it is normal that affected display fear and anger, anger will in some situations be more efficient. Anger may for example trigger the resistance and the courage needed to disarm a terrorist. In the society “constructive” anger is reflected through an increased will to defend our values and ourselves.
We react instinctively in the face of life-threatening situations. Fight or flight reactions are designed to ensure survival. Our pulse increases and the blood flow are directed to the large muscle groups. A range of physiological changes happens automatically and our perception changes. In these situations, many people can experience “super powers”, that make them run faster, become stronger and react more quickly. In extreme situations these reactions may pose the difference between life and death.
The bodily changes in danger are normal and necessary to ensure survivor. The way we react to these changes can vary, some may e.g experience numbness instead of fight and flight. The reaction patterns can also be influenced by previous trauma experiences, temperament and personality.