The Logic of Violence:
Think Like A Criminal
175 minutes, DVD presentation
Release Date: May 2013, by YMMA, $29.95
Reviewed by Gila Hayes
This month, we review a program on DVD by Rory Miller, an author we’ve discussed in this column before. Although Miller’s lecture The Logic of Violence is formatted as instructor development, it contains many valuable insights anyone can use to increase personal safety. Besides, aren’t we are all teachers? Caring about others means encouraging them to exercise caution, alerting them to dangers and often introducing them to self-defense techniques. What if the defense methods we always thought worked actually prevent only a small percentage of crimes?
Most of us are so insulated from genuine, life-threatening need that we cannot understand the motivations fueling predatory crime, states Rory Miller, instructor and narrator of The Logic of Violence. Miller has considerable insight into criminal motivation, having worked for 17 years in corrections, honing and applying his martial arts skills to the way real humans attack. Author of Meditations on Violence, Facing Violence, co-author of Scaling Force and other DVDs and books, Miller now teaches defense skills and strategies full time. His latest DVD, The Logic of Violence, compresses a multi-day seminar into an intensive three-hour program defining types of violence and strategies to defuse, avoid or survive it by understanding how criminals justify and execute violence.
Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a useful model, Miller shows how violence is employed to attain survival, security (providing food and shelter for coming days), being part of a group, esteem and self-actualization.
Modern people don’t deal with the basics of survival and security at the primitive level of starvation, being eaten by wild animals or freezing to death, he comments. We address these needs through social services, then erroneously assume survival concerns no longer exist, because we are motivated primarily by social priorities. Attempting to address social needs like belongingness and esteem when the criminal is acting from the survival or security level is disastrous, he warns.
In desperate straits, humans can justify violence, often by creating differences between you and them. “Othering,” Miller explains, increases the amount of violence justifiable. Rationalization is universal, he adds, asking, “Has anyone ever been arrested for a crime where they didn’t have a good explanation of why they did it?”
Miller draws comparisons between drug addiction and Maslow’s two basic priorities, survival and security. Because most have not experienced the desperation of drug addiction, he asks viewers to compare the need for drugs to what they would do to get food for their children if facing imminent starvation. Before letting your children die, would you steal, commit prostitution, or kill? he asks. The drug addict experiences that immediacy, he stresses. Appealing to social priorities fails badly when the criminal is operating at the survival/security level, desperately needing drug money, for which you may look like a good source.
Miller explains how aggressive panhandling, like violent mugging, is coercive predation, but with very low risk. The criminal weighs risk against reward. What can I get? What are the chances something bad is going to happen to me? Does reducing the apparent reward take you off the target list? No, he answers, adding that robbery is not a matter of social justice, either. Homeless people rob bag ladies because the risk is so low, he illustrates.