Fight, Flight or Freeze
Fight, flight or freeze are types of responses to extreme stress and life-endangering situations. They are behavioural solutions meant to combat difficult situations and apply to both humans and animals alike.
With this work, I try to confront my own uncomfortable, sensory overloaded experiences in moments of anxiety and give them a shape. This work is not solely an exercise of illustrating an inner experience, but rather an attempt to provide myself relief by means of trying to understand a state that is at same time paralysing and over-activating, coloured with memories of the past and sensations in the present.
Neuroscience says that still today, we respond to highly stressful situations like we would have in the past, when we were “out in the open”. So we could either combat the threat – Fight – if we estimated that we had a chance at winning; Flight – run away from the threat, if we could get away from it at our fastest pace. And finally – Freeze – where we, in a manner of speaking lost, and ‘playing dead’ or freezing our internal responses was the only way to numb out the terror of being in such a situation, and perhaps – make ourselves less appealing to our predator.
Today, our responses to stressful situations trigger our ‘old’ behavioural patterns. We fight, flight or freeze. But is that all, and what comes after the response? How is the memory of the initial experience stored within our bodies, and how does it influence our subsequent reactions and decisions? Stress and anxiety sometimes take unusual and inexplicable shapes within the bodily physiology, and trigger our senses to heighten. We can be aware that these sensations are there, we know they are uncomfortable and may influence our daily life, but it may be difficult to describe what and where they actually are.