A Scientist Looks At A Dangerous Police Enemy: Violent Rage

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Another new behavioral science book with practical application in police work is Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain.

In its highly readable and intriguing 400 pages, Dr. R. Douglas Fields, an internationally recognized neurobiologist and brain authority, explores the evolutionary and contemporary triggers behind domestic disputes, barroom brawls, mob violence, road rage attacks, and other sudden violent behavior that officers are routinely challenged to deal with.

In particular, his fascinating explanation of brain function explores sudden outbursts by ordinary people with no history of violence or mental illness. The right trigger in the right circumstances can unleash a fit of rage in almost anyone, Fields writes. Stress puts the brain on a hair trigger primed for snapping, and chronic stress literally rewires the brain.

Fields identifies nine triggers that can ignite rage either in suspects officers encounter or in the officers themselves. These include being in what is seen as a life-or-death situation, experiencing insults, protecting territory, sensing injustice, defending one s tribe, and being restrained.

The understanding you gain from Fields’ work may protect you from adversaries and from yourself in any number of volatile encounters that might otherwise go south at any moment.

Among the surprises you’ll find in Why We Snap is this irony: the same pathways in the brain that result in violent outbursts also enable us to act heroically and altruistically. That why, Fields explains, you’ll dive into a frigid winter lake to save a drowning child before your conscious brain realizes what you are doing.

Why We Snap is available from Amazon. Click here for new, used, or Kindle formats.

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