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Case study 4. Alpha Male.

This is a simple case study which shows how silly arguments over trivial matters at the early hours of the morning can have significant life and career consequences. It also shows an almost text book Alpha Male and provides an example of that posturing that is inherent in Alpha Male type physical encounters.


Jaamal Berry

Jaamal Berry

A police report shows a 21-year-old man says Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry punched him with a closed fist after an argument and that a witness was hit as he tried to break up the fight. Another witness says Berry bragged about what he had done. There were no serious injuries.
The incident occurred shortly before 2:30 a.m. in downtown Columbus.

Berry has been charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct.

Ohio State spokesman Jerry Emig says Berry would be suspended from the team pending the case outcome if the university verifies the charges.

- Source; and here for ongoing consequences.

Analysis and Lessons Learnt

The Location

Assaults happen most regularly at home or at entertainment venues and this case happened in downtown Columbus. Again, when you go out to have fun where large groups are congregating, it is a high risk time for heated arguments between human's which can all too easily result in needless violence.

The Time of Day

2:30am. This is a time when almost everyone is drunk or high. Alcohol is present in most cases of assault. When large numbers of people are gathered and have been drinking heavily, opinions can become very important to people when usually they are not so. Arguments are the main way that cases of assault develop.

Self imposing a curfew on ourselves can see our risk of getting involved in an assault drop dramatically. By doing this, you can defeat the aggressor without even fighting them (remember Musashi?).

The Weapon

Berry punched the victim in the face. As we know from working through Understanding Modern Violence, most cases of assault involve no weapons because they tend to be spontaneous or develop very quickly; they are generally not pre-meditated. Often, the attacker does not use a weapon because the events leading up to that decision by one or the other are highly emotional arguments where neither party is thinking too clearly. Often the decision to strike is a split second one and not considered too much (otherwise they probably wouldn't have done it).


As we have seen in Understanding Modern Violence, Alpha Male encounters (Assault) rarely result in serious injury. Often, such cases only result in some bruising, both of body and of ego. Alpha male encounters are generally not about killing. They are generally about appearing to win or dominate the other person.


Clearly, both men were drinking and had been drinking for some time. This case involved an argument leading to it going physical. You know the scene. Two men puffing their chests out, maybe some pointing, maybe some chest pushing. Others were probably yelling for them to stop. Others may have been egging them on. Lots of people would have been watching. Reputations were on the line.

"Berry bragged about what he had done"

This is not at all surprising. It all has to do with domination. Berry would have felt super confident after successfully landing his blow after that tense moment leading up to letting that hand fly. It is all about being the bad Alpha Male which in these moments involved lots of posturing.

I am sure you can imagine David Attenborough talking about the male species and the mating rituals and conflicts that take place where one attempts to gain status in the eyes of onlookers and people who here of events in the future...


So this is the final case study lesson in the Understanding Modern Violence course.

However, this will not be the last time you hear from me talking about real life incidents looking for key lessons learnt to pass on to you. As I have been saying, it is better to learn from other people's mistakes (the aggressor and the victim) so we don't have to learn the same lessons the hard way ourselves.