Friday, 21 May 2010

Fighting not fleeing

I had a query the other day where someone asked me whence came my self-description of being an adrenaline junkie. Did I truly love adrenaline or just the statement?

I think I enjoy the results of the increased level of adrenaline. These may be stated as "Helping the fight and flight stimulus by boosting the heart rate, increasing the breathing rate which allows more oxygen uptake for more respiration so that a lot of energy is available when needed. The pupils are dilated so as to improve vision. It also directs most of the blood supply to the skeletal muscles that help us run or fight and restricts blood flow to the gut and skin by constricting blood vessels to these areas (after all, digestion can wait). It also speeds up the conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver because glucose is the substrate for respiration (producing energy)."

I was at Ashridge Management College and we were being taken through basic psychology and it seems that I tested at a really high level as a Type A personality. Type A individuals can be described as impatient, time-conscious, controlling, concerned about their status, highly competitive, ambitious, business-like, aggressive, having difficulty relaxing; and are sometimes disliked by individuals with Type B personalities for the way that they're always rushing. They are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about delays. Limited research sows a high association between Type As and recognised adrenaline or stress junkies. I have no shame in admitting to much of that but it must be said that the validity of Type A or B testing is not fully accepted by the experts.

I have wide fluctuations in blood pressure as well as hypertension. I have been tested at well above the rate when hospital treatment has to be given as a matter of urgency. I enjoy the sensations attributed to raised levels of adrenaline. I know that I sometimes act in a manner which will spark confrontation or put me under stress. It does not bother me but addiction is possibly an overstatement - my life does not revolve around self-imposed stress.

The image at the top of this blog is a re-creation by me of a document that was shown to me back in 72'ish when I was serving in Belfast. A senior officer from the RUC SB brought it to me under conditions of considerable security and secrecy. He explained it had been found in a search following the detention of a well-known IRA gunman. The central number was the officially registered index of a Morris 1800 car used exclusively by me. I worked in plain clothes and the plate was frequently changed for others not registered anywhere, The other numbers on the pad had been used by me in the couple of months before I saw the document. The description (6'3" etc) fitted me. The writing was not that of the gunman; he refused to divulge where he got it or why but the SB guy and I were in little doubt as to what he might have been going do with the information.

From that contact I worked for over 150 hours with no real break other than a daily shower. Hardly any food intake. I wore out four guys assigned to ride shotgun. Working out where the combination of car numbers might have been seen and setting these alongside known contacts of the gunman identified someone. The handwriting of one of them matched that on the note and he was off to Long Kesh.

I attribute my ability to concentrate on a single issue and put in the level of work that I did that week purely to whatever it is in my genes that floods the system with that hormone. I cannot really answer my questioner better than that.

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