Flight Trauma Reaction

Jun 16, 2024

Flight or Perfectionist Response

Another automatic reaction we can have to danger is to disengage, retreat, flee the situation. If the danger has been ongoing in our childhood, this run or flight defence can get jammed in the ‘on’ position.

Flight types are always busy, industriously ‘doing’, running from task to task, distraction to distraction. This is the stuck energy of flight expressed indirectly, as well as a way of avoiding being triggered as happens when they slow down, are more present, connect to others more deeply.

The over-thinking style is an expression of left-brain dissociation; constant thinking in order to avoid the feelings that lie beneath. The benefit of chronic, ceaseless worrying is that it distracts us from deeper pain.

‘Flighters’ also tend to be perfectionists, in the hope that their obsessive efforts will make them worthy of love and safe from attack.

Symptoms of an extreme flight type include:

  • Over-thinking, worrying, panicking when stressed
  • Obsessive-compulsive drive, rushing
  • Workaholic, busyholic beahviours
  • Perfectionist compulsions
  • ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia

Ways Forward

Flight types are very hard-working, diligent and persistent when they put their mind to a task. These are very useful qualities to bring to inner-work.

Because ‘flighters’ live in their heads most of the time, starting with rational, adult psychoeducation about trauma and subconsciously driven way of reacting, is an easier point of access and works well as a therapeutic foundation.

With understanding and compassion, therapy can then move towards facing and releasing the trapped emotions, and the use of hypnotherapy to rescue the traumatised child within.

Practicing stillness, breathing, reconnecting with the body, grounding and other somatic practices, all help the flight type reclaim their feelings and physicality; heart and body awareness gradually return, moving the energy previously stuck in thinking and doing, towards full expression and release.

These practices help the person to gradually regain a balanced strength, so they can live more from their unified centre rather than just from a hyperactive head.

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