Typical examples of individuals that might have a condensed threat threshold include:

The criminal or antisocial individual

  • The intoxicated individual
  • The psychotic individual
  • The physically and/or emotionally traumatized individual or family member
  • The more intense a person’s emotional reaction, the less likely they are able to think rationally.

Acting-out always involves some emotional force associated with the situation. Fear is the most common emotion related to aggression.

In understanding that the emotionally upset person is unable to think rationally, we can see the sense in taking deliberate steps to de-escalate the emotional components of a situation so that the person can rationally cooperate.

  • When upset, if given an option, an individual will usually choose a non-violent way over a violent way of dealing with a stressful situation.

Common causes of acting-out:

  • Frustration
  • Tension (anxiety)
  • Being ignored/rejected
  • Lack of positive attention
  • Confinement
  • Loss of personal power
  • Lake of impulse
  • Boredom
  • Overcrowding
  • Competition
  • Staff behavior
  • Psychological confusion/misperception
  • Need to establish/maintain self-esteem


Cues to potential acting-out:

  • Mood swings
  • Changes in body language/activity
  • Physical tension
  • Changes in verbal behavior
  • Stimulus events – certain dates such as anniversary of termination date, etc.
  • Depression, suicide attempt
  • Past history data