Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Fawn

As we move through this time of upheaval and pandemic, this is an important time to learn about trauma and the responses that our nervous systems often take in response. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, we can move into states of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. We might also vacillate between a couple of these.

In addition to these becoming activated due to present circumstances,

— some people have endured past traumas as well, and these can become reactivated in our nervous systems in these ways,


— some people have lived in environments that were generally anxious or non-nurturing for long periods of time.

Trauma and post-traumatic symptoms don’t always emerge as memories. They nearly always emerge as a reaction or set of reactions.

Here is an image from @ryantheholistichealthcoach:

May be an image of text that says 'TRAUMA RESPONSES FIGHT FLIGHT Workaholic Over-thinker Anxiety, panic, OCD Difficulty sitting still Perfectionist FREEZE Difficulty making decisions Stuck Anger outburst Controlling "The bully" Narcissistic Explosive behaviour FAWN People pleaser Lack of identity No boundaries Overwhelmed Codependent Dissociation Isolating Numb @RYANTHEHOLISTICHEALTHCOACH'

It reads…

Anxiety, panic OCD
Difficulty sitting still

Anger outburst
“The bully”
Explosive behaviour

Difficulty making decisions

People pleaser
Lack of identity
No boundaries

Which reaction pathways tend to be primary for you? 

Do you recognize these patterns in yourself or your loved ones? They are natural and do truly discharge traumatic energy. Our bodies have them because we need them at times. But we don’t want to become stuck in them. That causes larger problems for us. These patterns may spin out, causing us pain, and impacting our relationships.

But we can heal these patterns with somatic therapy and personal and relational care, and we can do the work of healing the systems that cause so much trauma in the first place. I love how the word ‘heal’ is both passive and active at once. We receive healing and cultivate it over time, and we can act as healers for a world with less trauma.

Renee Roederer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s