The fight response

The fight response

With regards to our fight response, we see development of a narcissistic type of defense. Each survival response is developed in childhood and can be altered to an efficiency through parenting, adult interpersonal trauma and single type 1 trauma.

Using each response in a balanced way results in securing healthy boundaries and an ability to navigate conflict securely. However, through trauma we begin to rely on either one or two of the 4F responses. It is this fixation that limits our ability to access a healthy balance of the other responses.

When we become focused on a single response, it can serve to distract us from our own inner critic and associated feelings.

If you have a fight type response, you usually fear intimacy and avoid it by alienating others with angry and controlling demands for love. You unconsciously use control to connect and rage to feel safe. In terms of Childhood developmental trauma, we find numerous fight responses happening as a result of imitating a narcissistic parent or from older siblings who overpower their younger siblings as their parental figures overpower them.

It becomes the norm to respond to our feelings of abandonment with anger, contempt or disgust and shame others to mirror our needs. Fight type responses usually involve using others as an audience, taking prisoners to meet our needs of safety and control.

With regards to neuroscientific research, the fight response is viewed as a response to threat which is mediated by neural circuits including amygdala, hypothalamus, periaqueductal Gray (PAG) , medulla and spinal cord. The fight response has a signature neural pattern that corresponds to a combination of activated connections within a descending neural network (Kozlowska, Walker and Carrive, 2015). Each different survival response contains elements of changes in sensory and pain processing which have currently been researched. I have included graphics from the study below and also a link to the study in unit 7.

The Downward Spiral of power and alienation which manifest from control creates even more distance and emotional withholding with relationships. It doesn't fit to serve us well to rely heavily or solely on this response. Of course, there are situations where the fight response is appropriate and can aid us to secure and maintain safe boundaries, it is the over-reliance of the fight response that can cause deeper issues within our lives.

To begin to overcome the fight reliance a trauma survivor needs to begin to redirect their anger from interpersonal relationships to the child trauma or interpersonal trauma that happened to them. As will undoubtedly happen naturally over a period of time, the fight type needs to recognise the negative effects their behaviour has on the quality of relationships and their personal lives. It is also important to work on reducing your inner critic, as many fight responses can arise due to conflict with our inner critic and ourselves.

When working through dulling the fight response, it is important to recognise some of your own personal warning signs and take time out when we feel this response beginning to take hold. These timeouts can serve to help redirect hurt and grieving through having the ability to work through past feelings of abandonment rather than projecting it onto relationships.

The individual who uses a fight type response must begin to work on their flexibility with regards to using other responses appropriately. You can do this through mindful practice, taking time to reflect on what caused you to react to the trigger and what you could do to minimise it in the future. I will provide a table within files which you can print and write down each episode of this response. This will help you to analyse it a little better and see your personal struggles. 

When taking a time out, it would be beneficial to do some body work whether that be through tension release exercises, mindful breathing, yoga or meditation. This could aid your body and returning to its natural state allowing you to work through the worksheet and identify your trigger points in a more calm, relaxed manner.