Natural Reflex And Perception Of Control: What The Brain And Body Do Without You

On the subject of Fight or Flight Response, there are reams of articles available on the internet that break down the physiological, emotional, and cognitive responses to extreme stimuli. Reading through, my first thought was WOW! The human body is quite remarkable in quick response times!

Before our brains can actually puzzle out the name of what situation has arisen, blood vessels contract, pupils dilate, and, unfortunately for some, the bladder … relaxes.

Within a nanosecond of those blood vessels contracting, we’re ducking, running, or swinging. Remarkable.

Of course, another response would be freezing. Imagine that. Imagine your feet going on absolute lock down while adrenaline heats your insides, while your eyes are wide and staring, staring, until the picture before you — the event unfolding that has made your companions react completely differently — begins to make total, horrifying sense.

That’s how I reacted once upon witnessing an explosion. By the time I had pieced together the understanding that it was necessary to turn away and make my concrete feet move, I was all alone. Yeah, my friends left me there gawking. (I’m just glad I didn’t make a puddle.)

My reaction in that instance was contrary to a lifetime of quick reflexes. Dozens of times my peripheral vision has served me well — I have turned in response to shadowy movement and caught a toddler as he fell out of a shopping cart, caught a fellow server’s tray full of drinks before it toppled, flicked the steering wheel just in time to avoid being t-boned on a small town highway; and once I did some mad-skill judo on a suspicious dude rounding a dark corner. (He left a puddle.)

Why did I react so differently to the crack and split that proceeded that deafening boom of a car exploding? Did all those physiological mechanisms of mine recognize that I was in no real danger of injury? And if so … how?

Another aspect of the brain and body’s reactions to extreme situations is the after-effects. I’ve been forced to defend myself. Immediately after the altercation, immediately after successfully extracting myself from dreadful physical harm, I did not whoop with joy or holler Who’s Your Daddy Now! No. I lost my lunch. Violently.

I was unspeakably overwhelmed with negative emotions, including guilt. And I was jumpy for twenty-four hours. Not to mention queasy. When that twenty-four hours passed, I was was overwhelmed with anger. Why should I feel guilty for saving myself?

What do you think?


I know you’re busy, but please take time to Read Comment & Vote for our writers’ contributions to Week Two’s prompt The Mysterious.

Week Three brings us to storytelling the wonders of Fight or Flight. Which gear kicks in for your character when danger pounces?

RicoChey has asked the question, Who Might You Be? Why don’t y’all give us a little hint or two? Let’s get to know one another.

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2 Responses to Natural Reflex And Perception Of Control: What The Brain And Body Do Without You

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Survival | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

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