The 4 F’s

Comments: No Comments

The 4 F’s are fight, flight, freeze and fawn. Its how to nervous system behaves in response to a crisis. Whilst its a necessary system to keep us safe, the nervous system can get stuck causing trauma, distress and illness. It can also be activated by remembering a stressful event. In cases of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or CPTSD (complex traumatic stress disorder) noises, smells, images or feelings can trigger this response.

The fight, flight, freeze and fawn response ( The 4 F’s) plays a vital role to keep us safe in situations where our life maybe at risk. For example a vicious dog is hurtling towards us, baring it teeth. Our brain will subconsciously decide to either, stand and fight, run away, freeze or try to placate the animal. We have no control over this, its an automatic reaction that occurs in a split second.

The problem comes when this system does not shut off or we are continually in situations where we are in danger. This can lead to illness and disease, such as mental illness, PTSD, cPTSD, auto immune disorders, fatigue, anxiety and depression. These can be indicators that you have been or are stuck in the 4 F’s response.

The Fight Response

The fight response is exactly how it sounds. We assess if we can stand and fight, if we can attack it before it/they attacks us. This could be physically or verbally. Words associated with the fight response are; Narcissistic, Controlling, Explosive, Enslaving, Entitlement, Demands Perfection and Bully

The Flight Response

The flight response in when we run away from a situation, this could be physically or mentally. This is so we do not have to interact with the person(s) or situation. Words associated with flight response are: Busyness, Obsessiveness, Hyperactivity, Worrying, Addiction, Minimising, Rushing, Anxiety and Adrenaline Junkie.

The Freeze Response

The freeze response is our inability to move or talk during a threat. This is in the hopes the threat will not notice us or not be interested. Words associated with the freeze response are: Feeling Cold, Numb, Stuck, Small, Disassociate, Stillness, Hiding Camouflaging, Isolation and Hermit.

The Fawn Response

The fawn response is our way of placating a person or situation through being pleasing and minimising yourself. Words associated with the fawn response are: Making yourself Small, Listen, Help, Compromise, Co-dependent, Servitude, Grovelling, People Pleaser, Loss of Self, Doormat, Slave, and Social Perfectionism

Each response happens subconsciously and is how the body best perceives its only way to survive within the given situation in front of it. We have no control over this. We often have a response that preferable to us, which is usually a response that we have utilised before with success. However, at any point we can respond in any given way.

The 4 F’s were very useful in times when we had a predator chasing us, such as an animal, before we became civilised. In modern day times these responses, whilst useful, can become a hinderance as generally we are more safe than ever before in history.

The Relevance To Understanding The 4 F’s?

Understanding each response gives us insight to how we generally deal with a stressful situation and can indicate if we are stuck going through a response. By identifying this we can implement steps to calm or nervous system or look for a pattern to see if we are dealing with a more complex problem that needs psychological intervention.

Do you need help understanding or finding ways to soothe an overactive nervous system? Get in touch!

Leave a Reply

Side bar