Trauma is usually caused by life-threatening events like combat situations, natural disasters, and accidents. But events like a breakup or the loss of a loved one can also be traumatic.
Given our minds and bodies are designed to ensure survival, we come neurobiologically prepared to cope with trauma.
Trauma response is how we cope with trauma. It’s a learned response that typically develops in childhood. The way we learned to respond to trauma in the past gets carried over to how we respond to stress and danger in the future.
Thus, our trauma responses play a major role in shaping our personalities.
Trauma response types
Trauma is usually very specific to an individual. A person responds to very specific types of triggers. However, there are four trauma responses the mind usually picks from:
The fight trauma response is when an individual tackles a danger head-on. The person believes they can reach safety by overpowering the source of their danger.
The flight response means feeling the danger. If you can’t fight, the next best option may be to flee.
When both the fight and flight responses seem unfeasible in the moment, the individual is frozen with fear so they can better assess the situation. After a period of freezing, they may choose between fight or flight.
The fawn response is being submissive to your aggressor. Being submissive to your aggressor makes them less likely to harm you. This is often seen in the animal kingdom, where conflicts are avoided by showing submissive behaviors.
People usually deploy a combination of these responses to cope with their individual stressors and potential threats. One or two of these responses tend to be dominant.
Your whole personality may be nothing but a trauma response. Knowing your dominant trauma responses can help you cope better with stress.
Taking the trauma response quiz
This test consists of 40 items on a 5-point scale ranging from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree. There are 10 items for each trauma response. Your results will show how you score on each trauma response.
When answering the items, try thinking about how you generally behave.
This test is 100% confidential, and your results will only be displayed to you.