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Asocial vs. Antisocial Violence

Forearm & Knife graphicHere is a table showing differences between asocial and antisocial violence. It is a guide to differentiating between them. Ideally, read Handling & Understanding Violence first.

Asocial Antisocial
TFT Hand Book p.10 Lethal, unaffected by social skills, requires decisive action* Avoidable, survivable,  can be
solved using social skills*
Choice No choice Choice available
Retreat Not available Available
Do you feel it appropriate
to put your thumb into his eyeball?
Yes No
If you had a gun and
could get to it in time, would you shoot/empty gun into the threat?
Yes No
Do you find
yourself asking,
“should I hit him?” (TFT Hand Book pp.12-13)
No - you do not ask
because there is
no time for internal debates
Yes - you ask because
the use of violence is iffy
Typical reaction of nearby people Run away
[although, in a prison, inmates may watch and study asocial violence, as it so central to their everyday life]
Varies. People can gather
round  to video it and
 see the outcome
(e.g. playground fight) -
or even join in.
Threat (SSA p.33) Life-and-death Ego
Typical Scenario Clear threat to life
or serious threat to body.
Imminent grievous bodily harm.
Various scenarios often based on
ego, status, pride, respect;
but can also be for 'fun'...
After the event “I am lucky to be alive” or
“Thank God I am alive”
“I am so tough/badass/manly”
3 Day Test
(WVITA, Ch.5)
If 3 days after the event you chose to use violence in, you find yourself either dead or in jail, will you still think that your choice was worth it? =
"Yes" [as you were devoid of choice]
Character Killer Fighter
Focus Destruction. Seeing similarities rather than differences (e.g. we both have eyeballs that are equally weak).

Competition/Duelling, where the bigger, faster, stronger, more skilled prevail

Aim - Survival.
- Self-Offence [Self-Defence
is only the term for courts
after the event].
- To avoid participating in your own murder etc.

Social dominance, status, machismo, attract women, even enjoyment or addiction


Workman-like, calm and methodical; intent to injure; always identifies with successful use of violence.

Tough, macho, posturing
Facial Expression
(WVITA, Ch.4)
Blank, even bored - as there is no emotion or social message to send Angry, intimidating -
designed to get you to back down, but may hide fear

Starting Position

Often unexpected, from behind.

squaring off (after verbal escalation)

Length of Violence

Often short (seconds). Movies often give a false impression of lengthy fights.

Brawls can last minutes
Women vs. Men When women meet violence,  
it is usually asocial
When men meet violence,
it can be antisocial or asocial
Use of Social Tools Talking and other social tools are useless. Asocial violence is often silent, it is just done.
But certain scenarios like rape
may allow words to be useful,
as an offensive strategy.
Social tools like talking** can be used to handle the situation. 
Even acting like a wimp or coward can allow avoidance of antisocial violence.

* In many real life situations the opposite of this happens. When confronted with asocial violence, people will try to talk/reason/plead their way out of it. When confronted with antisocial violence, men especially get involved in a fight (where there is a risk of accidental death of you or the other person, and ensuing legal complications and prison), rather than deescalating it with talk, avoiding it.

** Talking in Antisocial Violence: De-escalate. Placate with passive or submissive gestures and words. Expressions might include “Sorry”, “My bad”, “You’re the boss”, “You’re right”, “No problems”, “You’re the man”, "I agree, I won't do it again", etc. 

In certain situations (e.g. riot), the use of “I’m about to vomit” with retching sounds and actions may help deflect aggression.
Talk your way out of it! Survival - not ego - is what matters.

Sources are mainly TFT (course, books, audio, video; SSA = Secrets for Staying Alive When Rules Don't Apply; WVITA = When Violence Is the Answer). Also elsewhere including Geoff Thompson (Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours) and my own thoughts which may not accurately reflect the understanding of TFT.

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Also see:-

Violence articles

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Page last updated: 21 July 2020.