Fight Flight Freeze Response

The fight, flight and freeze response are physiological reactions. They help you cope with danger or duress. When you feel threatened, your body prepares and mobilizes itself to either fight or run. Anger/rage, crying, and bullying are an example of the fight response.  Restlessness, fidgety-ness, excessive exercise, running from one thing to another, or suicide can be a reaction of flight.

When you freeze, it also is a basic survival response. If you feel completely helpless or hopeless, you might shut down and freeze. Literally, you try to become so still that you become paralyzed, numb, immobilized, so that the threat might not notice you. If you have been so terrified that there is no escape, the freeze response may occur.  With the freeze response you may not feel the pain of the attack/trauma or have any (explicit) memory of what happened. Often it plays out later in life by feeling stuck, unable to make decisions, having difficulty articulating thoughts, and feeling sluggish.

Trauma ranges from a single, one-time event, to abuse that has occurred repeatedly over days, weeks, months and what may feel like a lifetime. As you might expect, the more chronic or multiple traumatic experiences you have had to endure, the more difficult it is to overcome. Also, the younger you began to experience the trauma, the more devastating the effects.