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What happens during Fight or Flight (or Freeze)?

A snippet from "Personal Safety and Self Defense" course

Physical Limitations
When we are suddenly attacked, our body will immediately and without our consent undergo a series of physiological changes. Some can be helpful while a majority of the changes will not be seen as beneficial, and with most people can even inhibit performance.

The saying "Fight or Flight" is not quite accurate. In reality, our bodies undergo "Freeze, Flight or Fight". When a sudden and violent attack occurs, the limbic system in our brain will kick into overdrive and put into action a series of internal changes. Our body will begin by pooling blood to our core, a protective action to keep ample blood available for our vital internal organs. This pooling will cause two notable issues:

  • dexterity will be affected: fine and complex motor skills will deteriorate
  • may not notice a serious injury to our extremities until the danger or event has passed

Fully expect the following:

  • auditory exclusion (loss of basic hearing)
  • tunnel vision or monocular vision
  • elevated heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure
  • color blindness
  • involuntary urination or defecation
  • dry mouth, slow motion

Learning self-defense can help individuals avoid the "Freeze" response to danger and make intelligent decisions about whether they should "Fight" or "Flight". 


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