Monday, February 26, 2007

The Infamous Fight or Flight

I always hear people talking about "Fight or Flight" as if that's the only two options in a fight. So which one is the person who is "paralysed by fear" doing? What about all the people who look up to see a car bearing down on them, or an avalanche who freeze in their tracks until flattened? Were they running or were they fighting?

"Freeze" is a third element that needs to be discussed. In some cases it's intentional and others it's not. I'm no expert but I imagine someone who's never been exposed to a certain event, or even thought about it, might freeze. Take the car for example. You look up and it's coming at you at 35 mph...when would the average person ever have thought about that one happening? Their brain quickly sifts through the memory banks for something...anything and nothing appears. Results, frozen in place until flattened.

Freezing obviously stands us in good stead in other situations. Military personnel are taught to freeze during night ops if a flare is tripped, for movement will give you away faster than anything else. Commandos are taught to use it when moving behind enemy lines and think they may have been spotted. Snipers use the same skill when 'stalking' into place for their shot.

Undoubtedly our cave men ancestors used it to survive being eaten by predatory animals. Many of the latter hunt by sight and freezing is very effective against big game either when hunting them or being hunted by them.

So remember, next time you hear the old "fight or flight" line freeze, and remember the third option nobody ever seems to talk about.

No comments: