I think you think good!
When I watch someone go off their rocker [at live poker] following a hard beat or whatever, I always get a mixed Darwinian/Freudian sense of the goings on. Tommy discusses a lot how people slip away from the present tense and psychologically slip away from their body into their mentition, i.e. their future and their past.
I have had a different take that I would love Tommy to respond to. To humans, money is like food, it is life-sustaining on a certain level.
As an aside to your main point, I want to say that I totally get where you're coming from on this point. Here is the second-to-last paragraph of my book. I bolded the pertinent part:
We decide that in our new game, the loser will pay, not only in pride, but also in cash. Money buys time, and food, and choices. Money is time, and food, and choices. Money equals food. Food equals life. Money equals life. Broke equals death. In our society, wagering money is as close as we can get to betting our lives. With so much at stake, our game is sure to cause desperation, and treachery, and man, this is truly a nasty game we are inventing here. Do you think weâ€™ll be able to get anybody to play it?
Okay, back to your post:
When someone takes it away from you at the table, especially against the odds, I've noticed the following. It is as though the "victim's" mental process regresses from the new/modern parts of his brain to the more primitive brain segments. I see a variant of "fight vs flight" in the face of a vital threat.
The problem is that we have that dang glue sticking our ass to the seat, so being deprived of flight we are forced into fight mode. Within the rules and culture of the poker table, I see the person start to fight for his life from his throbbing mid-brain, manifesting as irrational aggression and ultimately what we call tilt. The person becomes exclusively focused on one opponent, his mortal enemy. In a fit to destroy his opponent by sticking a knife in his liver, the result becomes (financially) self-defeating because, like it or not, we are still respecting the rules and culture of the table.
Has anyone ever conceived of tilt in this fashion?
You asked me to respond so here ya go. I'd never thought of it that way, and now I forever will.
If I were forced to look for a leak in your ideas, actually it's more like an expansion, I'd point out that "flight" is still available. We call it quitting. In the event that it's a tournament, or the tilty person has no intention or ability to quit, then everything you said applies. It so happens that I HAVE thought of some types of quitting as being a "flight" response. This only shows that we are on the same page with this analogy, the difference being that I was still on the first paragraph and you are at the summary.