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Fight, Flight, Freeze and Fawn

Posted on May 14, 2021 at 1:10 PM

Most people are aware of the first two stress reactions: the fight or flight response. Get your fists up or run for the hills.

Some still remember to count in freeze as well. Actually, this has always been a very important reaction. Think of an animal baby that is lying alone in a field. It certainly cannot fight and running is not really an option either. So it freezes. Human eyes and animal eyes usually focus on movement. We have a hard time recognizing something if it is still as a rock.

The last one is not so common: fawn. Yet many of us do it without realizing. If you can't fight, flight or freeze you fawn - meaning you become extra nice to your adversary (the one that stresses and/or threatens you), you try to give him or her as little reason to attack as possible. You become very submissive, do and say what you think is expected and pleases, are quick to apologize even if there was no mistake and go the extra mile. All so the other part won't have grounds to become angry and get at you.

It is crucial to realize these reactions as stress reactions once we show the symptoms. Only if we are aware of what is happening will we have the possibility to make a conscious effort to change things for the better and learn how to appropriately handle stress.

Categories: Psychology, Recovery, Science


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