Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Normal/Abnormal? Hey! What's Wrong with This Picture?

     Stay alert! Are you a bit sick of being told that? Be alert for rapists? Be alert for terrorists?

     "Oh! Ahhh, okay," the populace says, your squad says, your family says. Then you move on with your day never really knowing what that phrase truly means or what precisely you should be this alert for.

     "No worries," some leaders say, "why you've been anointed with the "gift of fear!" That ESP! That magic Spidey Sense. You just tingle when you mingle with the scoundrel. Then the concealed bear trap snaps shut on your ankle, and you're in it. In deep. While our brains are natural spotters of the unusual and the abnormal, we need more help and hope avoiding the bear traps than just icky feelings about pending danger.

     One of the key, built-in radars we have in life is spotting the abnormal. Military experts now call it "pattern recognition." This records the normal. That helps spotting even the tiniest things that don't fit properly. Much, much has been written and studied about this subject in the minutest detail. Pages and pages of psycho-techno-jargon and pontification, and even just in the last 5 to 10 years. I can steer you to these sources. You do need to know them and have them on your shelves if even for reference. There are thousands of examples and stories. To save time here, I will simply cleave it down to a few sentences. In our business, our world of safety, crime, and war, we want to spot suspicious people, criminals, and enemy soldiers/terrorists. And we need to spot their dangerous deeds and plans aforehand!

     First, you must become a student of the normal to be a spotter of the abnormal. You might think this is a new discovery by some self-defense instructor, but it's not. It was explained to me, for example, about forty-five years ago in the Army's military police academy. They ordered us to study the neighborhoods we patrolled, so we could become "students of the usual," so we could spot the unusual.

  "... become 'students of the the usual,' so we could spot the unusual."

     Your brain does a lot of this automatically, and I have written about these neural functions in other blogs. The sub-committees in the brain that send messages to the conscious. It helps greatly if you'll add some effort to the cause. Educate the subconscious and conscious of your brain. In shorthand, this time-and-grade-process equals the vital term "experience." But either way, you can't spot the abnormal in its domain, be it the woods, the jungle, the desert, the streets, etc., and their inhabitants without first being a student of the normal.

     Yeah, we have a low-running radar system. Yeah, it's like a gift. But it's not enough. Not by a long shot. You must couple this with intelligence information you glean on the usual, the unusual, and what we call M.O. - the method of operation - of the people we watch for. Do this, and you are breathing life and depth into that shallow, fulfilling term ..."stay alert."

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