Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn, Fine, and Flop Trauma Responses


Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. I am a trauma survivor. If you need help, please seek the services of a licensed professional (see my Resources Page for suggestions). The contents of this website are for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. Information on this page might not be accurate or up-to-date. Accordingly, this page should not be used as a diagnosis of any medical illness, mental or physical. This page is also not a substitute for professional counseling, therapy, or any other type of medical advice.  Some topics discussed on this website could be upsetting. If you are triggered by this website’s content you should seek the services of a trained and licensed professional.

Trauma responses are the body’s instinctive reactions to perceived threats. These responses aim to ensure survival during traumatic events and can manifest differently depending on the individual’s coping mechanisms and the nature of the trauma. Here’s an overview of each response:

1. Fight Response

During Trauma:

  • Behavior: Confrontation, aggression, and defensive actions.
  • Physiological Signs: Increased heart rate, adrenaline surge, muscle tension.


  • Emotional: Anger, irritability, and frustration.
  • Behavioral: Arguing, yelling, physical aggression, and controlling behaviors.
  • Long-term: Difficulty with authority, easily triggered anger, and a need to dominate or control situations.

2. Flight Response

During Trauma:

  • Behavior: Attempts to escape or avoid the threat.
  • Physiological Signs: Rapid breathing, sweating, restlessness.


  • Emotional: Anxiety, panic, and fear.
  • Behavioral: Avoidance of conflict or stressful situations, overworking, and constantly staying busy.
  • Long-term: Chronic anxiety, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and social withdrawal.

3. Freeze Response

During Trauma:

  • Behavior: Inability to move or react, feeling numb or detached.
  • Physiological Signs: Decreased heart rate, feeling cold, muscle immobility.


  • Emotional: Numbness, helplessness, and disconnection.
  • Behavioral: Inaction, indecisiveness, and dissociation.
  • Long-term: Depression, difficulty making decisions, procrastination, and isolation.

4. Fawn Response

During Trauma:

  • Behavior: Appeasing or pleasing the threat to avoid conflict or harm.
  • Physiological Signs: Lowered heart rate, submissive posture.


  • Emotional: Low self-esteem, fear of rejection, and guilt.
  • Behavioral: People-pleasing, difficulty saying no, and prioritizing others’ needs over one’s own.
  • Long-term: Codependency, lack of boundaries, burnout, and resentment.

5. Fine Response

During Trauma:

  • Behavior: Masking true feelings and presenting as if everything is okay.
  • Physiological Signs: Internalized stress and tension, while appearing outwardly calm.


  • Emotional: Suppressed emotions, denial of problems, and detachment.
  • Behavioral: Acting as if everything is fine, minimizing the trauma, and not seeking help.
  • Long-term: Chronic stress, emotional exhaustion, physical health problems, and eventual breakdown.

6. Flop Response

During Trauma:

  • Behavior: Complete physical and emotional collapse, often as a last resort survival mechanism.
  • Physiological Signs: Extreme reduction in energy, a sense of giving up, and inability to respond or act.


  • Emotional: Feelings of defeat, helplessness, and resignation.
  • Behavioral: Surrendering to the situation, giving up control, and passivity.
  • Long-term: Persistent feelings of powerlessness, chronic fatigue, and difficulty taking initiative.

Understanding and Managing Trauma Responses

Recognizing Symptoms:

  • Being aware of how these responses manifest can help individuals identify when they are experiencing a trauma response.
  • Partners and loved ones can also benefit from recognizing these signs to provide better support.

Therapeutic Interventions:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps individuals understand and change thought patterns and behaviors associated with trauma responses.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing): Facilitates the processing of traumatic memories.
  • Somatic Experiencing: Focuses on releasing trauma stored in the body.

Coping Strategies:

  • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help manage stress and anxiety.
  • Grounding Exercises: Methods to stay present and connected to the here and now, reducing feelings of dissociation or panic.
  • Support Systems: Building a network of trusted friends, family, and support groups to provide emotional and practical support.

Self-Care Practices:

  • Regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep can improve overall well-being and resilience.
  • Engaging in hobbies and activities that bring joy and fulfillment can enhance emotional health.

By understanding and addressing these trauma responses, individuals can work towards healing and developing healthier coping mechanisms, improving their quality of life and relationships.