Its not Flight or Fight – Its FRIGHT

29 Nov

The flight or fight response, also called the “acute stress response” was first described by Walter Cannon in the 1920s as a theory that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system. The response was later recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.

An example:Suppose that you are out on a picnic with your family and decide to go off on a hike by yourself. As you come around a bend in the trail you suddenly see a large snake that is coiled and prepared to strike. You will probably recognize this as a threat and your body will go into a stress reaction. You feel your muscles tense as your heart rate and breathing increase. You body is preparing you to act by either fighting or running away.

Our body is made to respond to every single situation in life with either flight or fight reponse. But, I think our mind is more motivated by FRIGHT than fight or flight. I have been motivated to fight or flee away from a situation because of fear of the consequence. When I was young, the fear of my parents’ bickerings made me study hard and always be the first ranker in the class till it became a habit and I was fully motivated to be a winner in every exam . If my Mom had cajoled me , showering all her love and asking me gently to study hard, I doubt if I would have shined in my studies as I did. There are many teenagers who behave strangely , sometimes even harshly just because of the fear of not being accpeted by their community . At the same time, for the same reason, some of them change their characters to be better persons just to get accepted.

Yes, we all know that exercise is good for our health. But, till we see a high cholestrol in our blood report, we are not motivated to join a gym or reduce our intake. It is the fear of a heart attack that motivates you to improve your health. The fear of losing your job makes you work harder at work. Imagine a workplace where everything is very leisurely ..there is no way you will be able to grow in such an environment. Once you know a layoff is on the way, you can see every Tom,Dick and Harry at work .

Ultimately, it is the fear of death that motivates life. The only sure thing about life is death. But, we are all afraid of it and it motivates us to become better, braver souls and enhances our fight responses . It might feel good to say that LOVE is the most intense force in this world . I agree, love is definitely a strong one but in my opinion, FEAR supercedes it as being more forceful.


Posted by on November 29, 2005 in From AM-KICKING blog


5 responses to “Its not Flight or Fight – Its FRIGHT

  1. Mindframes

    November 30, 2005 at 2:12 am

    Great blog…

    Reminds me of the lines that I recently heard from the movie Polar Express…”It is always good to not believe something until you see it through your own eyes, only to later realize that the best things in life can often never be seen”.

  2. sdpal

    November 30, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    I couldnt help but remembering an incident while reading this.
    My mom was complaining why my wife is very lean and why arent we eating properly. She hardly listens to any answer I give. My sis-in-law recently had some issue and had to test her blood, where she found out her blood-cholestrol was 400 (and she is supposed to be heavy worker according to my mom!).
    My mom witnessed the doctors archanai and for the first time in 5 years she accepted my answer and mentioned that to me on phone!

  3. BrainWaves

    December 2, 2005 at 6:19 pm

    Very good observation. How people face their fear defines their character.

  4. bumblebee

    December 3, 2005 at 3:33 am

    Very true. Couldn’t agree more. I can remember this quote by FDR. This one is on my best quotes list – “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”

  5. IamwhatIam

    December 7, 2005 at 2:41 am

    You made an interesting observation. In the stone age the flight or fight response was required more to hunt for food and defend against animals. Survival was the main trigger for FOF response. In the process humans adapted themselves and started building homes, cities, countries and established their fortress on earth. We caged animals and restricted them to forests so that we could feel safe. Now survival is not such a big problem as it was ages back. We are now using the FOF response to make ourselves better, earning more money to get bigger homes, better medical treatments to live better.
    I am interested in seeing where this adaptation will take us. Unfortunately.\, I will not survive to see that šŸ˜¦


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