Fight or Flight

  1. A stressor is perceived
  2. The hypothalamus activates the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system
  3. ANS changes from its normal resting state to the physiologically aroused, sympathetic state
  4. Adrenal medulla (part of the adrenal gland) releases adrenaline into the blood stream
  5. Adrenaline causes physiological changes to prepare for fight or flight
  6. When the threat had passed, the parasympathetic nervous system returns the body to its normal resting state

Your body is putting you in the sympathetic state- causes adrenaline hormone to be released

Adrenaline, increases heart rate (pumps blood, oxygen to muscles), blood sugar levels, breathing rare, dilated pupils, slows digestion, slows saliva production, contracts rectum

Fight or Flight AO3

However, although ‘fight or flight’ is a widely considered response, Gray (1988) argued that it didn’t tell the whole story. Gray believes that the first phase of reaction to a threat it actually to avoid the confrontation. He suggests that before responding with attacking or running away most animas (including humans) display the ‘freeze response’. At this point a human/ animal would be very alert to signs of danger, suggesting an evolutionary background, as it also allows them to look for new information in order to make the best response for that particular threat.

Moreover, Taylor et al (2000) suggested that females adapt more of a ‘tend and befriend’ approach rather than ‘fight or flight’. This involves women protecting themselves and their young through nurturing and forming protective alliances with other women. This is most likely because women have evolved in the context of being the primary care giver and thus will have a different way of dealing with stress. Fleeing too quickly would put their offspring at risk. It has been suggested through studies of rats that the release of oxytocin may be a physiological response to stress that inhibits flight as it increases relaxation.

Additionally, there may also be negative consequences of the ‘fight or flight’ response. While it may have been a useful survival mechanism for our ancestor’s modern-day life rarely requires such an intense biological response. The stressors of modern life can repeatedly activate the fight or flight response, which can have a negative impact on our health. For example, humans who face a lot of stress and consistency activate the sympathetic nervous system will continually increase their blood pressure which can cause damage to their blood vessels and heart disease. This implies that the fight or flight response is a maladaptive response in modern-day life.