One of the three most commonly recognized reactions of the stress response system. The body mobilizes in response to the perception of danger, and the individual activates a (counter)attack response – which can be physical or verbal – in order to subdue or master the threat and regain a sense of safety.
In the ongoing life and development of the trauma survivor, the fight response can continue to emerge in response to the perception of threat, and often appears as an aggressive reaction to the perception of harm, rejection, or betrayal. For example, an individual might demonstrate a pattern of immediately verbally lashing out when faced with threatening/potentially threatening situations. Fight can also turn inward in self-destructive patterns. Generally occurs in the survivor in response to a trigger that is reminiscent of past traumatic experiences. Therapeutically, it can be useful to assist clients in recognizing the protective nature of these behaviors, while simultaneously working to slow down reactivity and develop more regulated responses.
(related terms: Sympathetic Nervous System and Parasympathetic Nervous System, defense cascade)