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Fight or Flight

Great post on fight or flight from The Realistic Autistic:

This reminded me of a theory I read years ago regarding deer, humans, and human society. Deer have two modes: calm and upset. They mainly live in calm, unless predators or some kind of threat occurs. At which point they switch to upset, and fight or flight their way through the situation until they’re out of it. After which they switch back to calm.

Humans used to work similarly. When threats occurred, we fight/flighted to deal with them and then returned to being calm. The theory goes that as human society developed, we also developed things that register as a threat but can’t be dealt with appropriately using fight/flight. Money problems and angry bosses at work, for example. These situations put us into fight or flight mode, but because they can’t be dealt with so simply, we can get stuck in fight/flight instead of returning to calm.

The theory posits that this is part of where depression and anxiety come from, and possibly other forms of mental illness as well. Heart disease, poor sleep, and other physical symptoms follow as well. Living “on edge” all the time has costs to your mental and emotional health, after all.