Trauma—Adverse Childhood Experiences
Change INVOLUNTARY Brain Function

When our brains perceive a threat in our environment, we automatically go into one of these stress response modes: Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Fawn. From an PTSD world standpoint, these responses have served to protect us from overwhelming threats and physically, psychologically, or emotionally get to safety. However, for those who have lived through prolonged exposure to abuse or trauma, throughout childhood or in abusive adult relationships (often referred to as complex trauma), the threat feels like it was always there or never ceased, leaving many people in a world that seems unmanageable.

Most people have one or two dominant ‘stress responses that they typically fall back into as their main mode of reacting to stressful triggers and situations, or perceived threats. The goal is to process the trauma with EMDR, not manage symptoms or learn to ’cope’.

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The Fight Trauma Response

Can be described by the following behaviors:

  • Self-preservation at all costs
  • Anger—Explosive temper, outbursts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Can’t hear others points of view
  • Pronounced sense of entitlement
  • Dominate/Control others
  • Demand perfection from others
  • Pursue Power and Control
  • Impulsive Decision Making
  • Assertive “Bully”
  • Incessant Criticizing/Raging
  • Dictatorial tendencies

These behaviors are symptoms of the automatic trauma response.
This trauma response often clinically labels a person with/as: Narcissist, Sociopath, Conduct Disorder

The Flight Trauma Response

Can be described by the following behaviors:

  • Feelings of panic and anxiety
  • ‘Workaholic’
  • Obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors
  • Always on the go
  • Staying busy
  • Over worrying
  • Perfectionist
  • Over achiever
  • Hyperactive, rushing around
  • Over analytical
  • Can’t sit still/relax
  • Tries to micromanage situations/other people

These behaviors are symptoms of the automatic trauma response.
This trauma response often clinically labels a person with/as: Obsessive-Compulsive, Bipolar, ADHD, Panic, Mood Disorder

The Freeze Trauma Response

Can be described by the following behaviors:

  • Depression
  • Dissociation
  • Brain Fog
  • Avoids human contact
  • Detached
  • Isolating self from the outside world
  • Wants to hide from the world
  • Struggles with making/acting on decisions
  • Hibernating Couch potato
  • Lifeless/feeling dead inside
  • Feeling ‘spaced out’
  • Feeling unreal
  • Dissociates
  • Achievement-phobic

These behaviors are symptoms of the automatic trauma response.
This trauma response often clinically labels a person with/as: Depression, Schizophrenia, Attention Deficit, Dissociative Identity

The Fawn Trauma Response

Can be described by the following behaviors:

  • Co-Dependent
  • Has a hard time standing up or saying ‘no’
  • Scared to share their opinion
  • Talks about ‘other’ instead of themselves
  • Lack of boundaries, easily exploited by others
  • Defers to others in decision making
  • Avoids conflict
  • Difficult to identify feelings, even when alone
  • Feel like you have no identity
  • Constantly trying to please people
  • Appease the other person to avoid conflict
  • Accept beliefs, thoughts, and truths of others
  • Uncomfortable/threatened when asked opinion
  • Concerned with social standing/acceptance
  • ‘Angel of Mercy’ / Over-caring / ‘Yes’ person

These behaviors are symptoms of the automatic trauma response.
This trauma response often clinically labels a person with/as: Codependent, Victim,  Borderline Traits

This information was modified from the following sources, accessed 12/12/2020

Psychology Today Blog Article

The Mighty

Kathryn Mintner

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