Unveiling The Physiological Reactions to The Anticipation of Danger

In a world where survival has always been paramount, our bodies have evolved intricate mechanisms to respond to threats and dangers. When faced with violence and aggression, our ancient survival instincts kick in, triggering a cascade of physiological reactions.

From the release of a complex chemical cocktail to the activation of the well-known fight, flight, or freeze response, our bodies are truly remarkable in their ability to prepare us for moments of peril.

The Chemical Cocktail: Unmasking the Body’s Responses

The anticipation of danger, whether real or perceived, sets off a number of chemical reactions within our bodies. The central players in this chemical reaction are adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine.

These hormones are released from various glands, including the adrenal glands and the sympathetic nervous system, to facilitate a rapid response to potential threats.

  1. Adrenaline: Often referred to as the “fight or flight” hormone, adrenaline is a key player in preparing the body for action. It increases heart rate, dilates airways, and diverts blood flow away from non-essential systems toward the muscles, enabling us to perform quick and powerful movements. Adrenaline also enhances sensory perception, making us more alert to potential threats.
  2. Cortisol: This hormone, known as the “stress hormone,” plays a role in energy mobilisation. It boosts the body’s glucose production, ensuring a readily available energy source for immediate use. However, prolonged exposure to cortisol can have negative effects on the body, leading to issues such as increased blood pressure and suppressed immune function.
  3. Norepinephrine: Working in tandem with adrenaline, norepinephrine triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response by increasing heart rate, constricting blood vessels, and redirecting blood flow to essential organs. It heightens alertness and focus, enabling us to assess the situation and make rapid decisions.

Survival Principles: The Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response

The anticipation of violence and aggression often triggers one of three primary responses: fight, flight, or freeze. These reactions are deeply rooted survival strategies that have helped our ancestors navigate dangerous situations and secure their survival.

  1. Fight: The “fight” response involves confronting the threat. When the body releases adrenaline and other stress hormones, it becomes primed for physical action. Muscles tense, senses sharpen, and strength increases. This response can be seen as an aggressive reaction aimed at neutralising the danger. However, the decision to fight is not always a conscious one and can be influenced by individual personality traits, past experiences, and the perceived level of threat.
  • Flight: The “flight” response revolves around escaping the danger. In this scenario, the body’s heightened awareness and increased energy levels are used to facilitate rapid movement away from the threat. The body redirects blood flow to the legs and muscles, providing the energy needed for swift escape. Flight can be a rational response when the threat is overwhelming or when fighting is not a viable option.
  1. Freeze: The “freeze” response involves a temporary paralysis of movement. When faced with an intense threat, the body may enter a state of shock, which can result in a temporary inability to move or act. This response is thought to have evolved as a survival mechanism to avoid detection by predators. While it may seem counterintuitive, freezing can sometimes provide a momentary advantage, allowing an individual to assess the situation and plan a strategic response.

Navigating Danger: A Complex Interaction

In our modern world, the physiological reactions to the anticipation of danger remain largely unchanged, despite the shift from physical predators to more complex societal threats.

While these responses are hardwired into our biology, they are also subject to individual variation.

Factors such as genetics, past experiences, cultural upbringing, and mental health play a significant role in determining how we respond to danger.

Understanding these physiological reactions can empower us to manage our responses to perceived threats more effectively.

Practices such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation can help regulate the release of stress hormones and reduce the negative impact of chronic stress on the body.


The anticipation of danger triggers a complex chemical cocktail which cascades around our bodies, preparing us for the fight, flight, or freeze response.

These survival principles have evolved over millennia and continue to influence our behaviour when confronted with violence, aggression or abusive behaviours.

By unravelling the intricacies of our physiological reactions to danger, we gain a deeper appreciation for the remarkable ways in which our bodies have adapted to ensure our survival in an unpredictable world.

What’s Most Important With Regards To Physical Intervention Training?

What is most important is the experience, expertise, authority, trust and competence of your chosen training provider.

Especially when it comes to the use of physical intervention.

Because physical intervention is very often a contentious issue.

This is why we put our money where our mouth is and offer to support those we train.

You Should Want A Training Provider Who Will Turn Up To Support You

In all of the expert witness cases I’ve been involved with not once has a training provider (apart from NFPS Ltd) shown up in court to support the person they trained.

In fact many do the opposite.

They’ll claim that the person under investigation didn’t do the technique properly as it is shown in the manual.

The reason why?

They’d rather leave individual to their own devices than lose a training contract.

With us we’d rather lose the training contract than help throw a decent person under the bus.

The Solution To The Problem

The problem is finding the right provider – and finding the time to do this.

When you train with us you will receive a proper accredited qualification.

A BTEC Level 3 Award in Physical Restraint Instruction.

Issued by one of the largest Educational Awarding Organisations in the world.

We Were The First

NFPS Ltd was the first ever training provider to write BTEC Awards in this area.

Many have tried to copy what NFPS did, but there’s one there’s one thing they can’t copy!

That is our Experience, Expertise, Authority, Honesty, Trust, Integrity and Support.

So, if you are interested in becoming a competent and experienced trainer, with the back-up and support you may well need one day, talk to us.

We Will Be There For You Long After The Training Has Ended

There’s nothing worse than using physical force and then being accused of something and having no-one around to support you who knows what they are talking about.

We’ll be there for you long after the training has ended.

I also promise that we won’t try and ‘sell’ you a place on a course either.

Our primary concern is that you get the right training to suit your needs.

You making the right decision for you is our only priority.

We don’t want you to end up in a situation like Mr Kitchener, the Deputy Head Teacher who we wrote about at the beginning of this post.

That’s not a nice place to be at all.

We want you to be safe in the knowledge that you have had legally defensible physical intervention training from very competent instructors with support systems in place should you ever need to call on us.

Interested in becoming a trainer to then use your newly gained knowledge, understanding and expertise to empower others to prevent, manage or resolve challenging, aggression or violent behaviours.

To find out more about become a BTEC Qualified Trainer,

Click on the link to find out more about The BTEC Level 3 Physical Restraint Instructor Award course – https://nfps.info/physical-intervention-trainer-course/

Click on the link to find out more about  The BTEC Self-Defence and Breakaway Instructor Award course – https://nfps.info/self-defence-trainer-training-2023/

Or contact us to learn more about other training courses and products available to improve safety and empower you in your workplace and life.  Click on the link – https://nfps.info/contact-nfps/ and let’s arrange to talk.

Very best wishes


Trevel Henry

Director, NFPS Ltd