Know Your Attacker: The Attributes of the Sociopathic Predator
By Ernest Emerson
“Wherever you are, death will find you, even if you are in towers strong and high! So what is wrong with these people, that they fail to understand these simple words?” – Mohammed (Qur’an: 4:78)
How do you prepare yourself for an attack by your enemy? Lets’ first take a short look back in history.
Prior to World War II the French Military built a line of defenses, a wall in effect, called the Maginot Line as a bulwark defense against an attack by the German Military. The Germans simply went around using a different route, and over the line via the Luftwaffe. My point? The French strategic planners and military advisors failed to anticipate technological advances made by the German military. They failed to realistically evaluate all the possible strategies that an enemy could employ to subvert the defense and they also ignored the fact that the way wars would be fought had evolved and changed. In short, they did not know their enemy and as a result could not prepare an effective defense. Their efforts were futile and useless.
The simple lesson here is: Unless you “know” your potential enemy you cannot prepare effectively for his assault.
The principle here as it applies to self-defense and hand-to-hand combat is the same. You need to “know” your attacker so you are ready and properly prepared should that attack ever come.
Who is Your Enemy?
“I didn’t feel nothin”, said Tommy Lynn Sells – when asked what he felt as he cut the throats of two ten year old girls.
With all of our training, our technology and our knowledge, why do the bad guys win? Let’s take a look at answering that question.
Do you know what a sociopath is? In simple terms, I would define it as someone who has no empathy, no feelings for others –no conscience. We’ve been aware of, and perhaps have had contact with sociopaths our entire lives, ranging from the grade school bully all the way to the serial killer with all degrees of sociopathic behavior in between. In fact, many bullies actually grow up to be adult sociopaths.
We on the other hand are the good guys. We have a conscience. We care about what happens to others, we do not want to cause pain or suffering, let alone death to anyone. In this contrast lies the bad guys’ biggest advantage. My question earlier to you was, “Why do bad guys win?” Let us see if I can answer that. There is a phenomenon called “hesitation shooting,” an all too real scenario in which a police officer has his gun drawn and pointed directly at the bad guy. The bad guy also has a gun pointed at the officer. The bad guy pulls the trigger. The officer dies. How does this happen? Forget about your training.
Forget about department policies about justification of force. Forget about rules of engagement. Putting yourself in the officer’s shoes, it happens because you’re not a sociopath, even at the expense of your own life. But the even bigger reason is this; the bad guy is a sociopath and he’s done this before. You have not. His behavior started with pulling the wings off flies, kicking dogs or beating kids on the schoolyard, he’s done this before, a thousand times before. The only difference was that this time he had a gun. Tomorrow he might beat the hell out of an 85 year old grandma just to get her eight dollars and change.
In simple terms they are a product of their environment and we are a product of ours. You might say, good vs evil.
This is your enemy. Understand, I’m not talking here about a bar fight over a girl’s honor. I’m talking about a stone cold killer who will climb through a window into your house, crush your head with a hammer and rape your wife next to your dead body.
This is the enemy you must prepare for. If you are prepared, truly prepared, mentally prepared, to face an opponent like this, then all lesser opponents will pale in comparison.
“Let him who desires peace, prepare for war.” – Publius Flavius Vegetius
How do you prepare for the sociopath, perhaps a gang member who will kill you just so he can tattoo a tear drop under his eye for status in the gang?
Unfortunately to beat this opponent you have to become a sociopath. This is the point where most (a majority) of people fall short in the totality of their preparation. Will you gouge someone’s eye out? Will you tear their throat open with your teeth? Will you smell his stale breath as his eyes glaze over from your arm around his throat? If you’re not willing to answer yes, hell yes, to these questions then the day you meet one of these guys is the day you are going to die.
Are you a Sociopath?
I am a sociopath. Well, let me soften that a bit, by saying a, “justified sociopath.” What I mean by that description is; my decision, my mind set, my foregone conclusion is simply this. If you threaten my life or the safety or the lives of my family, I will do anything and everything to prevent you from doing so. No restrictions – no conditions. Period. You also, better be able to be that “justified sociopath” when the time comes.
It is with this singular clarity of purpose that you must approach the reality of true life or death combat. The SAS often describe it as the switch. You’ve got to be able to turn on the ruthlessness when you need it and turn it off when it is not needed. That is what separates “us” from “them.” I’m going to talk in much more detail about the “switch” and also the psychological / physiological response to such extreme violence in upcoming articles. But for now I want you to consider how you stand when it comes to a “what will I do to survive” moment. Otherwise if there is any part of you or your conscience holding you back when a bad guy is bent on your destruction you better be able to turn that switch off and the other switch on. If you don’t, you may personally find the answer to the question I asked early on, “Why do the bad guys win?”