Monday, November 21, 2016

Fight, Fawn, Flight or Freeze

The Four Fs

I was reading some Peter Walker's articles, and was intrigued by the theory of the 4 Fs.

 "Complex PTSD as an Attachment Disorder Polarization to a fight, flight, freeze or fawn response is not only the developing child's unconscious attempt to obviate danger, but also a strategy to purchase some illusion or modicum of attachment. All 4F types are commonly ambivalent about real intimacy because deep relating so easily triggers them into painful emotional flashbacks (see my article in The East Bay Therapist (Sept/Oct 05): "Flashback Management in the Treatment of Complex PTSD". Emotional Flashbacks are instant and sometimes prolonged regressions into the intense, overwhelming feeling states of childhood abuse and neglect: fear, shame, alienation, rage, grief and/or depression. Habituated 4F defenses offer protection against further re-abandonment hurts by precluding the type of vulnerable relating that is prone to re-invoke childhood feelings of being attacked, unseen, and unappreciated. Fight types avoid real intimacy by unconsciously alienating others with their angry and controlling demands for the unmet childhood need of unconditional love; flight types stay perpetually busy and industrious to avoid potentially triggering interactions; freeze types hide away in their rooms and reveries; and fawn types avoid emotional investment and potential disappointment by barely showing themselves - by hiding behind their helpful personas, over-listening, over-eliciting or overdoing for the other - by giving service but never risking real self-exposure and the possibility of deeper level rejection. Here then, are further descriptions of the 4F defenses with specific recommendations for treatment. All types additionally need and benefit greatly from the multidimensional treatment approach described in the article above, and in my East Bay Therapist article (Sept/Oct06): "Shrinking The Inner Critic in Complex PTSD", which describes thirteen toxic superegoic processes of perfectionism and endangerment that dominate the psyches of all 4F types in varying ways."

I think my dominant ones were fawn and freeze and under extreme pressure, the fight one would come out. Its like we were all deer in the headlights before narcissists. I am actively working on some of these tendencies. Fawn for me was a really bad one where I would try to "people please" and get people to like me. I would react to criticism by trying to make up for it, and trying to over-listen and over-do. This is one aspect of my behavior that I know allowed someone like "Mrs. Curses" to enter into my life and others. Recently when someone starts criticizing me, and acting that way, I don't "try harder" anymore and that has given me a great degree of freedom.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link. I think I've been all those at different times and other times a mixture.I think mostly flight and freeze though.Also have had some serious fawn time.
    I finally figured out I used to not eat as a way of trying to control that"needing people" feeling inside. In my house you weren't allowed to need anyone. So I was trying to starve out my needs. It's sad really.