The story of Krog and Mog
I actually prefer to flip it around and refer to it as the Flight or Fight If You Must response; mainly because I believe that under most threatening circumstances, most people, will choose flight over fight, if given the opportunity.
Flight or Fight? Well – which is it? When we think about it, those are two very different reactions. In understanding that, I beg the question – what determines whether we choose one over the other? What determines whether we stay and fight or leave the scene as quickly as we can? I believe the over-riding factor is one thing: SPACE.
Let me give you my caveman example: Our friend ‘KROG’ is walking along the river, that ran along the valley in front of his cave. Sun-bleached fields stretch away from the river, giving him a good field of vision in all directions. Suddenly, Krog stops in his tracks; he smells something. Something that makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He spins around and sees the long, low shapes of two sabre-tooth tigers appear on a hill-top several hundred metres away. Suddenly his heart-rate jumps from a resting 70 BPM to around 135 beats BPM. He experiences tunnel-vision as he focuses on the threat. His increased heart-rate pumps blood to his major muscle groups to ready him for action. Blood vessels in his extremeties constrict and so he feels tingling in his fingers and toes. As one of the sabre-tooths lets out a loud roar, another surge of hormones is released into his bloodstream. His bowel automatically empties to lighten his body mass as he turns toward the river and makes a sprint for the water. His decision to run was an easy one to make. The sabre-tooths were still several hundred meres away. The river was only twenty metres away and ten metres wide. On the other side of it, was a small band of light forest separating it from the rocky hillside where he and others of his tribe had lived for generations. Running was his best chance. Now that he had made his decision, his tunnel-vision was focussed on where he was going. Time seemed to slow down as Krog’s turbo-charged legs drove him through the river and up the hillside toward safety. The sabre-tooths missed out on their meal, whilst Krog lived to tell the tale. In fact, the adrenal response had an additional side-effect of burning the experience deeply into Krog’s memory. For a whole summer, Krog had trouble crossing the river – and so spent a lot of time around the cave with the women. But that’s another story.
The next year, one of Krog’s clansmen, Mog, was out hunting along the base of a cliff, far from the safety of the cave. Suddenly, without warning, a sabre-tooth leapt off a ledge above him to land snarling only a body-length away. His adrenal response was pretty much the same as Krog’s; his heart-rate shot to 145BPM; feces and urine were suddenly expelled to lighten his mass for action; all fine-motor skills were gone; his vision became so focussed that he was able to pick out individual hairs on the big cat as it leapt at him. His normally powerful body became temporarily even more so. There was no space, no opportunity for flight, and so he became absolutely committed to the battle. He didn’t even feel it as the big cat tore open his arm with a swipe of it’s paw. He gouged at it’s eyes as they tumbled to the ground. Unfortunately for Mog, the cat won the battle. But not before losing an eye in the process. Mog turned out to be a costly meal; he proved to be far stronger and more resilient than he looked.
And so there it is. The adrenal dump prepared both of our cavemen for action. One had the space to run and flee the scene, the other had no choice but to fight. The adrenal gland prepares us for serious action. Our perception of the situation is what triggers us into one course of action over the other. Knowing this can help us to formulate certain strategies that we can use to better protect ourselves. Here are two simple rules:
- if you are going to induce an adrenal response in a potential adversary, give them the space to run (back off) – DO NOT, induce an adrenal response and then close.
- If an adversary is already adrenalized, calm them down before initiated a pre-emptive attack.
Both Krog and Mog had the same hormonal response to a threat. Environmental factors played a pivotal role in how each acted. FLIGHT or FIGHT? Can you run or not?