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Panic Reactions (012) Transcript

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Oh! Good morning — oh! Do we have to get up?
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Panic reactions. Eight important F words. Normally we talk about a panic reaction as fight or flight. And that's a very simplified dichotomy. To fight or flight. It's probably the two most notable reactions. It's the two most demonstrative reactions, because you can really see when somebody is fighting back, and you can really see when somebody is running away. But there's six more reactions to a panic worthy situation that we want to get into. And then I'll tie it into DID and how we form our system. We know about fight. Fight is a good defense, is a good offense. It's tackling a problem head on to end the trauma or the abuse, to end the negative situation as quickly, expediently and violently as possible. Another well known reaction is flight. And that's when something really scary happens, and you run away fast and far. So fight, flight.

The third reaction, one we don't hear about quite as often, but some people are aware of, is freeze. So that's where you see an animal that stops in its tracks when it's scared. It's not as visible as fighting or flying away. But it's still right there in front of you and notable. So you can tell when something is scared. Sometimes it just stops, does everything it can not to move and not breathe and so on.

Then I read about another pair of reactions. And in the article I had read about them in they were called tend and befriend. So somebody actually mentioned that might be called fawning, to fawn on somebody, to give them more attention, to mollify them. It's this instinct to stick by somebody who's really strong, to play up to them, to have them enfold you in their protective radius of effect. So when you fawn on someone, you're kind of trying to form an alliance with them by being non-threatening, and being on their side, excusing their bad behavior and hoping that them being stronger than you will protect you.

There's also follow, okay, that's the befriend. Sometimes somebody will -- that's the second side of befriend, actually. Befriend can go both ways. You can fawn and hope that they protect you. You can follow and try and imitate them, and be on their side, be like their sidekick. So you can join them on excursions to be rude, to be mean, and so on. So I'll talk about how that works in our system in a moment.

Another panic reaction, and this one I haven't seen really mentioned, that I'm calling fortify. It's protecting yourself, it's putting up boundaries, and walling yourself in, making yourself less of a target, maybe hunkering down, maybe taking care of your children. So that would be the tend part of the tend and befriend. Tending to the children, making sure you protect the children, protecting others from the abuser. It's a little different than fawning. Fawning you're hoping the abuser will take you under their wing and protect you. In this case, you further victimize yourself trying to get in the way of the abuser hurting someone else, or even get in the way of the abuser hurting yourself by making yourself a stronger boundary. Okay, we talked last week, episode 11, we talked about boundaries, and I talked about firm, inflexible, impenetrable boundaries, and that's another issue. Well, fortify is where you make these really big boundaries in order to try and stop the abuse. And maybe you're folding in your children, you know, or someone else that you're protecting under that boundary.

Another one that I've noticed that people have when they have a panic reaction is what I'm calling fabricate. Some abuse is not visible. Some abuse is not as demonstrative, as being physical and violent. Some of it is much more subterfuge. It's manipulative, it's hidden, it's subtle. And when that happens, it's so much easier for this particular panic reaction to take place. And I'm calling it fabricate. Somebody can be subtly abusing you, can be invisibly abusing you, and you can change the story so that they're excused. You can change it so that what they're doing isn't as scary. You can choose to feel guilty about what they're doing as if you deserve it, as if it's okay. So you can take this manipulative predator and say, "Well, you know, they're just trying to help me", whatever the fabrication is. There's some kind of a lie in there that excuses the abuse. It's not real. It's really this other thing, you know. I deserve it. I egged them on. I this, I that, and it becomes an alternate reality, I guess, an alternate fabrication of what reality really is.

And the last one, number eight, and possibly the most healthy, is facilitate. So some people, when something panic worthy happens, take control of the situation and pull power away from the source of the panic. They'll disarm the cause. They'll take control and push back, but not push back to the point of fight. They're less panicked. This is a less panicky reaction, but the situation is worthy of panic. For example, let's take a typical panic worthy emergency of an accident. Your facilitator will be the person that goes over and checks the victims of the accident and says, "Hey, are you okay? Are you breathing? Are you bleeding?" You know, "Somebody call an ambulance. Is there a doctor here?" They're managing it. They're taking a leadership role and controlling the situation and trying to make it less panic worthy. They're disarming the situation, making it have more control in the situation, rather than it being out of control. They're the ones that try to find ways to manage it and manipulate the situation to be less abusive, less panicky, and so on. So that's possibly a healthy reaction to a panic-worthy situation. And maybe that's the goal for, you know, a good coping mechanism when panic ensues. But it sometimes isn't possible for someone to do. You know, we all have our different knee jerk reactions. So this might be like a goal. If you're trying to find a healthy way to respond to panic, managing the situation might be better. Obviously, though, once a professional comes on the scene, you have to step back and say, "Okay, this is being handled by somebody better trained than I am." But, you know, just giving you an idea.

There's these eight different reactions that I've identified. This is not the be all and end all of possible reactions to panic. But these are eight that I have seen personally, starting with the ones that are widely recognized and going down to ones that maybe are a little more subtle, and that people don't recognize. And there's a purpose to this that I wanted to identify at least these eight different possibilities for reactions to trauma and panic and abuse. I made a hypothetical leap where I said, Wait a minute, look at the DID Systems, look at who is in the system, and what roles they play within the system, and this is about roles, it's not about delineating or defining individuals and locking them into roles, but these are roles that multiple people within a system can play. And at different times, they can play different roles, but it is worth looking at this because it can help us understand one another a little bit.

So here we are, we're a baby. We're a baby who let's say supposedly has the dissociation gene and something happens that's panic-worthy. It could be anything. To a baby it can be going hungry. It can be a diaper pin stuck in you or something uncomfortable. It could be being too cold, anything. These things are all panic-worthy. That's why the baby cries. Something happens that's panic-worthy to this child, and they have all these different options for how to react. And if they're too young, facilitation is not an option. Facilitation, taking control of the situation. Let's say when you're older, you pull the blanket up when you're cold, that would be taking control of being cold. If you're a toddler, and you're hungry, and nobody's feeding you, you go raid the cabinets for cookies. That's facilitation, that's taking control. When we can't take control the situation, when we're too young, were not able yet, when we are not sure how to fix the problem, and so on, when we're too young, we're left with these other panic reactions to have. When something really scary happens, we might freeze. It would be a natural instinct for a baby to freeze because it wouldn't want to attract predators. So if there's a loud noise, the baby freezes, like uh oh, monster, and freezes. Fight reaction. You know, if a baby is in pain, it might flail its arms and kick its legs and try and fight. Flight reaction. When a child's about, let's say anywhere from like nine months on depending on how mobile the child is, if there's something scary, the child might run away. You've seen the child who looks at a stranger and then turns tail, and runs back to mommy, a flight reaction. And so on, down the list.

At different ages and different stages, some of these reactions become available to us. So different kinds of triggers, let's call it, you know, panic-worthy situations, triggers, or different kinds of input can cause different reactions at different times. Taking a baby that has the ability to remain dissociated, I'm going to say, because I think that everybody is born already with all their inputs. Their sensory input is all separate, and it isn't until everything in the brain starts meshing together, and all the little wires form between the cells, that it comes together and gels into one big whole. The child who inherits dissociation inherits the ability for these to remain separate and not fuse into one. So when abuse happens at different ages and stages, we're going to have the ability to have different reactions to it out of these eight or maybe more, but we'll use these eight as the example. So when a child or a baby is frightened, they may fight back, they may fly away, they may freeze, they may fawn on someone, they may follow someone, they may fortify themselves, they may fabricate a new reality, or they may facilitate the management of the situation.

So how does this translate to our buddies inside of us. When we trigger the flight response, we ended up with, possibly, with children alters or with alters who run away into the back of our head and let somebody else take over. When we have a freeze reaction, we may end up stopped in time and space, stuck back in that circumstance, maybe not aging anymore, afraid of aging, afraid of moving forward, afraid of moving at all. So we get stuck. We have the fight response, we end up being a protector in the system. We end up pushing back, even to the point of violence when somebody is attacking us. So it can be emotional violence, verbal violence, and so on. When we sense an attack coming, we fight back.

Stockholm Syndrome, okay, that's where people will leave a hostage situation and they'll be favorable towards their captors. They will talk well of them, they'll forgive them and so on. That tends to be fawning behavior. These strong people who took over a situation and did something, even if it was the wrong thing, they become kind of idolized on some level. So we get that sometimes with our abusers, where we forgive them, where we want to kind of stay on their good side. We don't want to attract their negative attention. We want to stay on their good side and continue to hope they'll provide and continue to hope they'll protect. So when there's people in your system who are still sympathizing with people who abused you in the past and protecting them and who insist on going to visit them or continuing to talk to them, those are fawning on your abusers.

Then there's followers. We have internal prosecutors. So when our abusers abuse us then there's these people in our head who say, "Hey, I'm going to be the tough guy. I'm gonna beat everybody else down, so I look better. I'm gonna be a bully. I'm gonna follow in their footsteps." So followers, who imitate the abusers and the oppressors. Fortify, those who protect themselves. Those are the walled-up alters, the ones who have locked themselves into a room, locked themselves in a box. They've put up really strong walls. Our whole system could be full of walls and separations between everybody. It's a fortification. It's an attempt to stop all input, to stop all abuse from getting through. And it ends up becoming a self-abusive situation. If you go back to Episode 11, and I talk about rigid boundaries, and hard boundaries, and how nothing good can pass through, as well as nothing bad. So fortifying can cause parts of your system to really wall themselves off from each other. This can also be subsystems where there's a system within the system. And there's usually a gatekeeper, the person you can see, or the mask that they all wear that you can see. Inside of the system, there's a boundary, and inside of it, there are others that you're not even aware of because the walls are so thick.

Fabrication. We all know the people who rewrite history a little bit to try and make less of or light of, or who carry around a lot of guilt, saying, "Well, when I was a kid, I must have deserved it. You know, I acted out. I deserved it. I got the negative attention when I couldn't get the good attention." That's a fabrication. At least in part, it's a lie. It's some stories that we tell ourselves to try and comfort ourselves, to try to defuse the situation to make it less panic-worthy, but it's not true. So we can find alters in our system who are based on these fabrications. Maybe they have -- this is possibly trigger-worthy, but maybe they have their backstory as a past life story. That is what I call an encryption algorithm, a retelling of a past life incident that's been entirely fantasized into something else, like a past life memory, or the backstory of an alter. It's possible that it's a retelling of something that really happened, but it's painted over with different details. It's taking place on another world or something where there's bits of the truth inside of the story.

And then we have internal facilitators. We have managers. We have people who are more in control of things and know more about the system, or have taken control of situations and managed them and changed the situation to be less panic-worthy in some way. They've defused situations. They've taken power away from your abusers. They left. They went and sought help. They, in my case, asked for a key so that we didn't need a babysitter anymore. There are different ways that people can manage a situation and stop abuse, lessen the abuse, control the abuse, take control back from the abuser. And there are people within our system who have that ability, if we find them and help them do their work.

So I found this to be important in terms of recognizing the source of the different people in our system, recognizing that the vast majority of people in our system have their own little panic reactions of choice, let's say. They don't have to always use the same one. We're all capable of being flexible and choosing a different panic reaction for a different situation. But we all have these roles because we reacted in some way to a situation and it pulled us further apart from each other. Instead of all melding into one mind, or one mental state, let's say, because early on, it's not so much a person as it is mental states. So instead of pulling together into one mental state, we ended up becoming split further apart. So instead of coming together, we started pushing away, because we had all these different reactions and went in different directions. And I think further splitting down the line happens as abuse continues and our ability to utilize these panic reactions gets more and more sophisticated. So that's how we end up with a whole bunch of people at different ages, different stages of development, different let's call it amounts of personal power and autonomy and co-awareness and so on. It's because as our body is growing and as our brain is getting more sophisticated with its connections, we have more and more options opening up to us for how to react to different situations. So there's fight for physical, but there's fight for mental and there's fight for emotional and there's fight for spiritual. There's different kinds of panic-worthy events that go on in our lives, and each one of those could possibly trigger off yet another spin-off or yet another reaction that doesn't meld together as a whole.

So where we're going to see this becoming more important in system trust issues is in understanding and accepting one another, in understanding why we exist. And understanding why it is that your internal prosecutor is behaving poorly towards the rest of the system, and why they behave even more poorly the more you push them away. Because pushing them away induces more panic, and their panic reaction of choice is to be an abuser, to follow along with the kinds of abuse that you've had in the past, to be more powerful in and of themselves by being more pushy and more condemning and more maybe physically abusive. So the more you push, the more they're going to panic. And when they panic, that's what they do. So that you can start forming bridges, and building trust between you, you need to understand that this isn't irreconcilable differences. This is how all of you react to different kinds of situations, how it pulls you apart, and you can come together and understand that each of these reactions has a strength. There's a time where it's appropriate to fight. There's a time when it's appropriate to flee, to freeze, to fawn. There's time it's appropriate to follow, fortify, fabricate and facilitate. These are all valid expressions of a panic-worthy situation. These are all valid ways of reacting to it. There's nothing inherently wrong with the reaction. There's just something inherently wrong with the reaction having pushed you so far away from each other. And once you know, once you understand, continuing to push is a real problem. So all forgivable until you realize. The day you realize, oh my goodness, they're just scared like I am. And then at that point, it's a responsibility for everybody to go, "Look, guys, the panic isn't happening anymore and we really need to get together and talk." That's why this is a foundational episode for system trust issues because this is at the heart of why there's a system at all. And why different people within the system present in familiar DID roles like protector, nurturer and so on. These roles directly correlate to the panic reactions that are natural for humankind. These are not weird, alien things happening in your head. They're perfectly normal panic reactions.

The problem is that we had such a enormous overload of panic-worthy situations. And at such an early age, and with the proclivity for our senses to remain apart, for our states to remain separated, that they ended up gelling into different individuals, different identities, different alters, different headmates, whatever you want to call it, so that the whole personality that came out of the situation came from that seed of the panic reaction. The whole identity was built around that seed. So your protector was built around fight. And it could be your physical protector versus your emotional protector. So you can have two protectors, three protectors, five protectors. Maybe different kinds of physical. Maybe sexual contact is one and physical bullying is another and parental bullying is another, so you could have three different physical protectors on different reasons that they're protecting you.

So hopefully this is helpful for you to start having an idea of why. Why do all these people exist? What is going on? Where did we come from? Why is it that I have protectors in my system and you do too? And so on like between systems, like why do we all have these different roles? Why is there this similarity when everything else is so very different? Because each of our individual circumstances were different, our systems look very different. So we have this -- every DID system is so very different, so then how do we have this commonality of so many having protectors? So many having littles, so many having this, so many having that? And here we go, here's the answer: because there are eight plus ways of reacting to panic-worthy situations. And that's how we ended up with such similar roles in our systems. Nobody's locked into those roles. Your persecutor can become a protector. Your protector can become a nurturer. These are roles. They're like roles where, you know, you're a student, and then eventually you're a mother, and then eventually you're grandmother. They morph, they change. So we can change our roles once we get over the initial instinct to react to panic in a certain way. And we can do that. We can all choose different ways to react to panic.

So this is the Crisses. Hopefully, this is a helpful episode. I hope I got it to mentally gel for you, because I really think this is very important. And it's still a relatively new theory for me, which is why maybe I was a little scattered. This is a very important concept, that we all have these panic reactions that are common to one another, and how it translates into how our system built up.

Thanks for joining us for this episode of Many Minds on the Issue. Your Patreon support will keep this podcast coming. You can find more information, resources, and our Patreon link at K-I-N-H-O-S-T-dot-org