Do you freeze, camouflage?

Jun 02, 2024

Freeze or Camouflage Response

If we are trapped in a threatening situation where we cannot fight back or run away, we give up. If it is futile or counterproductive to resist, we numb out and dissociate.

Confronted with danger, it makes sense to freeze, stay hidden, camouflage ourselves until the threat has passed. The problem with trauma, especially in childhood, is that it can be ongoing and our survival instinct gets stuck. We can’t get out of the behaviour.

This can show up in various symptomatic ways:

  • Dissociation: over-sleeping, daydreaming, excessive TV, online browsing, video games, couch potato, collapse response, body disconnection
  • Isolating, hiding away from others, avoiding social contact, hermit
  • Depression, especially at a clinical level
  • Self-medicating with alcohol or other drugs
  • Domestic Violence victim
  • ADD Attention Deficit Disorder


A key part of healing for the freeze type is building trust. This is difficult for someone who has only been attacked by others, so it takes time and patience.

Ways to help learn trust include:

  • Experiencing positive examples of people through books and movies
  • Connecting with animals, especially dogs and horses
  • Building a therapeutic relationship with a professional health worker
  • Doing self-hypnosis to reparent your inner child
  • Establishing a friendship/relationship with another person over time

 Are you a freeze type? We looked at many of the difficulties you may experience above. On the other hand, here are some of the positive characteristics you most likely possess, according to therapist Pete Walker:

  • Acute awareness
  • Mindfulness
  • Poised readiness
  • Peace
  • Presence

Source: Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving

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