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  • Writer's pictureNoel Guerita Anschutz

Understanding Trauma Responses: Navigating the Path to Healing

Traumatic experiences can have a profound impact on our lives, shaping our responses and coping mechanisms. In this blog post, we will delve into the various trauma responses individuals may exhibit: fight, flight, freeze, attach/cry for help, please and appease, and collapse/submit. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these responses, we can foster compassion, support, and ultimately, embark on a holistic healing journey.


Fight: Harnessing the Power Within

The fight response is a natural instinct that compels individuals to confront threats head-on. It emerges as a surge of energy, empowering individuals to assert themselves and protect their boundaries. By recognizing the strength that lies within, survivors can channel their resilience and reclaim a sense of control over their lives.


Flight: Finding Safety in Distance

Flight is a survival mechanism, urging individuals to escape or avoid the source of trauma. This response manifests as a strong urge to physically or emotionally remove oneself from the distressing situation. It serves as a protective measure, providing survivors with an opportunity to seek safety and create space for healing.

Freeze: The Stillness of Self-Preservation

When faced with overwhelming trauma, the freeze response emerges. It manifests as a state of immobility or paralysis, allowing individuals to dissociate from their surroundings. By entering this state of stillness, survivors create a temporary shield against the emotional turmoil, preserving their well-being until they can find the support needed to process the experience.


Please and Appease: Survival Amidst Desperation

The please and appease response arises from a deep desire to pacify the source of trauma. Survivors may engage in compliant or subservient behavior as a means of reducing threats and minimizing harm. Understanding this response as a survival strategy helps create an environment of empathy, where survivors are encouraged to express their needs and boundaries.


Collapse/Submit: Recognizing Strength in Vulnerability

In moments of overwhelming trauma, individuals may experience a sense of powerlessness and surrender. The collapse/submit response manifests as feelings of being overwhelmed, leading to passivity and resignation. By reframing vulnerability as a source of strength, survivors can rebuild their resilience and find the support necessary to navigate their healing journey.


Attach/Cry for Help: Nurturing Connections and Support

The attach/cry for help response highlights the importance of seeking support and connection during times of trauma. This response involves reaching out to trusted individuals, expressing emotions, and seeking comfort. By fostering relationships and nurturing connections, survivors can access the healing power of empathy and shared experiences.


Trauma responses are varied and unique to each individual, representing adaptive mechanisms that aid in survival.


By embracing a holistic approach to understanding trauma responses, we can foster empathy, support, and validation for survivors.


Remember, seeking professional assistance, engaging in therapy, and practicing self-care are essential components of the healing process. Together, let us create a compassionate environment where survivors can find solace, regain their sense of self, and embark on a journey of healing and resilience.

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