Is Violence The Answer?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

We’re taught as children that violence is never the answer, but is that really true? What about situations where self-defense is necessary to survive? In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen weigh in on what to do when violence is necessary, and how being a Brain Warrior, and thus being armed, prepared, and aware, can help you should any such situation arise.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation as well as any of our supplements at

Welcome back to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. We are going to talk about something that is sort of near and dear to my heart today. It's going to sound weird when I say this, but it's about when violence is the answer. Now, I know you're going to like ... initially when I say that, you're going to cringe. It's not about violence for the sake of violence, it's about violence for the sake of self-protection when there's no other answer.

Clearly, we always want you choosing something else. I'm talking about self-protection when you are in a situation where there's nothing else. But of course, we're always going to put our brain twist on everything. I am a female who has sadly more than once, been in a situation where I had to defend myself.

We're not going to minimize in a society like today the fact that you may find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself. What we want to do is talk about what's going on in the brain when these things happen, and are there times where it makes sense for people to actually have to fight and defend themselves?

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, the answer is, "Yes," and you should think about it-

Tana Amen: I'm so happy.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... ahead of time, and you should use the big brain God gave you to avoid situations that make you vulnerable. I remember one of my ADD patients after I treated her, she came back like a month later and said, "I was the kind of person that used to walk in downtown Detroit at 2:00 in the morning. I would never do that now," now that I activated her frontal lobe.

Tana Amen: Right, so mine are probably a little hyper. I'm probably a little hyperactive with that.

Dr Daniel Amen: A little?

Tana Amen: Yeah, but I've been attacked on the street by a big white guy in a suit, so just because-

Dr Daniel Amen: Do they know that you're actually planning for the end of the world?

Tana Amen: I think we've said it more than once, so yeah. No, I was attacked on the street by someone I did not suspect would attack me. First thing is, never think you know what is on someone's mind by the way they look. I was in a training one time, I've been training for a long time because of some of the things that have happened, and in this training, it was a bunch of police officers. One of the guys, one of the trainers, asked everybody, "In your mind, what does ..." because it's rare to be attacked on the street by somebody. It's actually very rare.

He said, "What would you suspect that someone, a perpetrator who would just randomly attack somebody, would look like?" They were all coming up with these ideas like, "Gang banger," like different ideas. I'm like, "It's a white guy in a suit. It's a big white guy in a suit." Everybody kind of laughed.

I'm like, "I don't know why you guys are coming up with those ideas, like that's very stereotypical. I got attacked by a big white guy in a suit at 8:30 in the morning, walking down a busy street. Literally tried to drag me down an alley and rape me." The idea that I trust anybody just because of the way they look, it's absurd.

You use caution everywhere. I've been training for a long time because of that. Now, when I met you and I started all this training and doing everything that I do, and I've been cautious forever. I mean, we don't ever walk down the beach and I'm not looking over my shoulder paying attention to where we are. This is just something that I do always. When we travel, I wear an over-the-shoulder purse with metal straps. I'm not joking. I'm always thinking about it.

Dr Daniel Amen: Let's keep this practical.

Tana Amen: Right, but when I met you, you thought I was over the top, but as the world is getting the way it is, you actually agree with me. There are things we need to be doing.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right, that we actually tend to avoid big crowds. We're on Balboa Island walking, and they were having a big gathering at something, and a rally-

Tana Amen: And a rally.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... you know?

Tana Amen: Bye-bye. Let's go the other direction.

Dr Daniel Amen: I don't need to be there. Part of it is being thoughtful and cautious-

Tana Amen: Social awareness. Social awareness.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... and being aware, but when you're in a situation, what are some of the things people can do?

Tana Amen: So the first thing when we talk about social awareness, a lot of people go, "Well, I don't want to walk around being scared." Let me point out to you, I don't walk around being scared. One of the reasons I don't walk around being scared is because I feel prepared.

I think the more prepared people are, the less scared they have to be. You're empowered. You're empowered with information. Social awareness is the number one thing. Number one thing you learn in training is awareness.

The second thing you learn is avoidance, right? You avoid situations that you think are going to be bad. I'm walking with my sister in Oregon, and all of a sudden I got this creepy feeling. I just got a creepy feeling. I'm looking around behind me, and she's like, "What is ..." She's completely oblivious. She's ... not how she lives her life.

She's like, "What is the matter with you?" I'm like, "We need to get off of the street." I don't know what the feeling was, but as soon as we turned off the street, I saw someone that I knew was going to be a problem. I will never find out, because I left. You just leave. It's avoidance.

Dr Daniel Amen: So trusting your intuition.

Tana Amen: Yes. Like when we got attacked by the dogs. I don't even know why I didn't want to walk down to the end of that jetty as it was getting dark, but we ended up continuing on even though I was like, "Let's turn around, let's turn around, let's turn around," and all of a sudden we got attacked by dogs.

When that voice starts coming up, intuition is not like this weird, "Woo, woo, woo, woo," thing, what intuition is, is if you're paying attention, it's heightened senses. Those of you have been attacked especially, or you grew up in chaotic environments when you were young, what your intuition is, is your senses are heightened. Whether it's your vision, your hearing, all of those senses are heightened to what's going on around you. Pay attention.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, and this actually fits perfectly with the Brain Warrior's Way, because we actually say, "You need to be armed, aware, and prepared to win the fight of your life," which is the fight for your health. We often think, "There's just bad food everywhere. There are gadgets that steal your attention. There's the chronic negativity from the crisis news network." It's not just CNN, it's everybody, where they pour negativity in your head for the ratings, but in addition, because of a lot of bad brains out there, there are people that are potentially harmful. We actually had in our neighborhood, which is a lovely neighborhood, a couple of break-ins.

Tana Amen: They didn't pick my house.

Dr Daniel Amen: But you called one of your friends who's an LA SWAT officer, and what did he say? "Get big dog bowls."

Tana Amen: He said ... okay, so here's the thing. They didn't pick my house. First of all, I have a big dog. Second of all, I have cameras all around the outside of my house. Third, I have a giant dog kennel outside of my house. I have signs that say, "Smile, you're on camera." So yeah, I've got a lot of stuff going on outside my house. He told me to add a couple of things.

He's like, "Okay, so let people know you have a big dog. On one side you've got the big kennel, that's good. On the other side, get a big, giant dog bowl, and write, 'Tank,' on it." So I did, and I got another big dog collar to let them know I've got a big dog. There should be no mistaking that I have a big dog in my yard. I do have a big dog in my yard.

Dr Daniel Amen: Because criminals don't like dogs-

Tana Amen: Dogs, because they're unpredictable.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... because they're warning signs.

Tana Amen: And they're unpredictable. It's a good chance of getting caught, because dogs are unpredictable. If they get bit, they go to the hospital, they get caught. So they're too unpredictable. They're more afraid of dogs than they are of alarms, so that's why the dogs are better.

Dr Daniel Amen: And having animals have been show to help you live longer, right? If you have meaning and purpose, you have to feed them, love them, they give you love back.

Tana Amen: Right. Here are a few of my top tips, and I actually have videos on YouTube that are just about all of this stuff. I keep a backpack in my car that has stuff in it in case my car breaks down somewhere that I don't want to be broken down. It's like my emergency road warrior kit. Like I said, I've got another video where we talk about all the things that are in that, but it's my emergency road warrior kit. It's got everything I need.

I never let my gas tank get below 50%. People never think about that. If you're on the freeway and there's a massive accident, or like the weather like last year, where the weather was really bad, people were stuck for like seven hours on the freeway. You don't want to be stuck in those situations, right?

Whenever I go to a large event, I'm always aware of where I'm at, and I always pay attention to where the exits are and notice. Do you think I spend the extra money on these events because I want to get better seats? It's not actually the reason. It's because I want to be close to exits I can get out quickly if I ever needed to. So that's the real reason, just in case you were wondering.

Dr Daniel Amen: Wow.

Tana Amen: Yeah, that's the real reason. Then I have emergency supplies at home that I would need in an emergency. So yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: So let's bring it back to the Brain Warrior's Way. Being armed with great information, being aware. I keep talking about my nieces, but I love the fact that when we go to the store, or we go to a restaurant, they know what's good for them or bad for them, so they're aware of it. They can choose to make a bad choice, but last week, [Alize 00:10:27], the teenager, ate like four cookies at the youth group she went to. Why they have cookies at a youth group is ... they just hate the children, I suppose.

Tana Amen: Seriously, don't say that.

Dr Daniel Amen: No, they do. I mean, you have to be serious. You're a warrior or you're a wimp. I don't know what else to say. She felt so bad that she's aware of how the food made her feel. That's what we want for you. She knows she has to be prepared that if she's going to go someplace where they may not have good food, to either eat ahead of time or take something with her. It's still a war. I mean, you're talking more about physical violence. This is clearly health violence against our population.

Tana Amen: So I'm confused, because we were talking about violence, but let's ...

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, we call it the Brain Warrior's Way, right? A lot of people didn't want us to call it the Brain Warrior's Way because people don't want to be in a war, but my favorite New Testament verse is, "Know the truth, and the truth will set you free." You're in a frickin' war when 40% of the population is obese, not big-boned, obese, this is a huge problem.

Tana Amen: I'm going to redirect for one second, because I'm still fascinated you got to meet Tim Larkin, and you got his book. I'm going to redirect for a moment again, because I really like what he said. He met you, and he's a huge fan of your work. I'm excited, because he actually got you really excited about self-protection, and thinking about this stuff.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, thinking about how I can break someone's arm in two places.

Tana Amen: I've already known that for a long time, so that's actually ... I've already known that and how to do a lot of other crazy things. He said that he agrees that your best self-defense weapon is the three pound mass between your ears, right?

Dr Daniel Amen: No question about it.

Tana Amen: Right, so in some cases, it's obviously, it's defusing a fight. In most cases, I'm going to actually go so far as to say, "Don't go there to begin with." Females are really good at this usually. Usually if we're not oblivious, you don't want to be having your hands full putting a baby in a car seat, not paying attention, like those types of things.

Dr Daniel Amen: And having headphones on-

Tana Amen: Earbuds, number one thing.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... that decrease-

Tana Amen: Your awareness.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... your awareness. It's taken hundreds of thousands of years, millions of years to develop a defense mechanism, which is hearing, and yet we block it out when we're outside.

Tana Amen: So main reasons women get attacked are earbuds in their ears, or they've got their hands full and they're not paying attention, or they're on their phones doing something. So be aware, but women are aware, they're really good at, "Oh, exit stage left. I'm going to go the other direction."

And the other thing is, women have this, sadly, they have this thing about being polite. Someone says something to you that gives you the creeps, and we are taught to be polite no matter what. Yeah, no. No. Say something rude and apologize later if you're wrong, or just leave. I've always told my daughter, "Be rude if you need to-"

Dr Daniel Amen: Is that why you're not polite?

Tana Amen: Yes. And then apologize later if you need to. Be assertive and get out. Don't sit there and carry on a conversation.

Dr Daniel Amen: I don't think they mean that toward your husband.

Tana Amen: No, I'm not ... no. So those are some big tips.

Dr Daniel Amen: Takeaways, three takeaways.

Tana Amen: Yes. I already told you. Make sure you're always prepared. Keep stuff in your car, keep stuff in your house that's emergency stuff, always know where exits are, and be aware of your environment so that you know how to exit if you need to.

Dr Daniel Amen: And decrease your distractions.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Stay with us.