SMART SURVIVAL: Dealing With and Overcoming “Tachypsychia”

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Survival Priorities

SMART SURVIVAL: Dealing With and Overcoming “Tachypsychia”

By Greg Rentchler- Editor-At-Large-NV


This is a must talk about subject when one discusses survival events, or personal involvement in a survival/combative situation. Let’s start with the technical definition: Tachypsychia is a neurological condition that alters the perception of time, usually introduced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. For someone affected by tachypsychia, time perceived by the individual either lengthens, making actions appear to slow down, or contracts, objects appearing as moving in a speeding blur. It is believed that tachypsychia is induced by a combination of high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, usually during periods of great physical stress and/or in violent confrontation.

Also called the “fight or flight” response of the body to an event our mind considers life threatening, tachypsychia is believed to include numerous physical changes. Upon being stimulated by fear or anger, the adrenal medulla may automatically produce the hormone epinephrine (aka- adrenalin) directly into the blood stream. Common physical changes may range from increased heart and blood pressure rates, which may cause the fainting or something close which could cause someone with these symptoms, to quit or shutdown. This is not an advantageous condition to experience when trying to survive! Dilation of bronchial passages and the pupils then causes a higher absorption of oxygen into the blood stream (good) and allows more light into the pupils, leaving us with visual exclusion or tunnel vision (bad). We can also experience a release of glucose into our system generating extra energy.

*It is common for an individual to experience auditory exclusion or sensitivity. It is also common for individuals to experience an increase in pain tolerance, loss of color vision, short term memory loss, decreased fine motor skills, decreased communication skills, or decreased coordination. The most common experience during tachypsychia is the feeling that time has either increased or slowed down brought by the increased brain activity cause by epinephrine, or the severe decrease in brain activity caused by the “catecholamine washout” occurring after the event. It is common for individuals to have serious misrepresentations of their surroundings during the events, through a combination or their altered perception of time, as well as transient partial color blindness and tunnel vision.* Wikipedia

This, my co-preppers, is the issue of survival!

It is my personal observations that prolonged periods of tachypsychia or several occurrences within a short time period (routine combat patrol) is the major factor relating to post traumatic stress syndrome. Just my observations.

Tachypsychia is a mainstream subject in my tactical firearms classes and I feel a most important one to understand. When I introduce this subject, discuss it and hear first-hand accounts that we can all relate to, I then let everyone know there is something we can do to decrease or minimize the effects of tachypsychia.

I am and will always come back to “TRAINING”! And by that, I mean good, relational, appropriate, meaningful training. Everyone wants to shoot around cars, repel from helicopters, leap tall buildings and spray rounds in the vicinity of the target. Of course, this is what you’re going to get from a seasoned Marine and LE. This is what I mean:

Basic Skills– one round at a time, deliberately, slowly, accurately, sight picture, sight alignment, center mass, good solid skills.

Advanced Skills– improve on your basic skills! Become more accurate, faster, smoother, better.

People can spout all day long about advanced, expensive equipment, lightning fast methods, secret handshakes and video games. If I can impress just one reader with this article that “meaningful training” is your best friend when experiencing a life threatening event, then I have fulfilled my mission and made at least one person safer.

So, to help manage or cope with tachypsychia, I have listed a few points that should help you:


  • Get in better physical condition. Improved cardio will assist in minimizing the negative effects of stress.
  • Understand what is happening to your body in times of acute survival.
  • The best weapon and caliber to use to defend yourself is the weapon and caliber you have at the time it is needed. Training is the important factor!
  • Military video games will not make you a better warrior- idiot!
  • Even if you train a little, if the training was meaningful, some part of that training will come to your aid in the form of (don’t like this term) muscle memory. It will also be apparent what is happening to you physically and that it is not life threatening.
  • The more quality time you spend training with your equipment, the better and safer you will become and most importantly your confidence will become positively grounded. Hence, a better warrior!





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