Interpersonal conflicts inevitably happen in life, under one form or another. As I'm being confronted by more conflicts as I grow older, I keep learning how to react better.
In conflicts where physical aggression is a possibility, I've learned through experience that it's always better to de-escalate as soon and as fast as possible, because serious and irreversible physical damage, and even death, can result from a single blow. In my opinion, it's never worth the risk.
At least, that's the rule I tend to apply when I'm the one being wronged. If I'm driving, and somebody, for whatever reason, gets mad at me and starts insulting me, I'll just send him a look that says "Ok, whatever", and will drive away. Now, if I'm the passenger, my wife is the driver, and she finds herself in the same situation, despite knowing the risks, I will probably quickly lose my temper and start behaving aggressively towards the other party.
Basically, I noticed that I will deal with aggression far better if I'm the one being attacked, than if someone close to me is being attacked.
In some cases, this behavior makes sense. I'm a 33 year old male. If I'm by myself in the streets and get assaulted, I can attempt to outrun my attackers instead of engaging into a fight which is a far more risky option. But, if I'm with my wife, or 63 year old father, or kids, then obviously I need to not just protect myself but members of my family as well, and they won't be able to outrun the attackers as easily as me.
In the case of verbal insults on the road, this "instinct" doesn't make as much sense. If I want to protect anybody, I perfectly know that whether it's me being insulted, or my wife, the best course of action remains to de-escalate and walk away. And I can stay calm and apply this principle when I'm being offended. But the minute it's someone else (given this person is close to me), I become irrational to the point I do the exact opposite I know should be done.
I could describe two important incidents in my recent life that illustrate this behavior. But I don't want this post to start looking like a therapy session. I'm primarily wondering whether this is something others experience and how they deal with it. So let's just say that, in the first incident, I get assaulted and badly injured. I end up in the hospital and need surgery. But I take it like it's nothing. And even go back to work early because I just don't feel the need for so much time to recover, neither physically nor psychologically. In the second incident, my brother and father are involved. I get completely irrational, mad, and take dangerous, reckless decisions. Afterwards, I dwell on the incident for months. This incident affected me psychologically on the long term, despite the consequences actually being minimal.
Is there any literature where this would be described and explained?