by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
I talk to a lot of paranormal investigators, and one of the things I enjoy hearing them share are their moments when something clicked inside of them, and their fight or flight response kicked in. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), often the cause isn’t even a paranormal one. One investigator that comes to mind took off running when an air compressor kicked on.
Another investigator I know experiences what he calls the “Scooby-Doo.” He runs in place but gets nowhere when fight or flight kicks in.
My “dude, run!” response is to freeze. It happened to me just the other day. Out hiking on a beautiful day, a teeny snake about the size of a garden worm skittered across my path. I froze, staring in horror until it was well beyond my line of site. Logically, I knew it was a teeny, tiny harmless snake. My body, however, didn’t care. Freezing was instinctual and something over which I felt I had no conscious control.
The fight or flight response – also known as the fight or freeze response or acute stress response is something that is well documented. It was first described by Harvard psychologist Walter Cannon in 1929. Later it was recognized as a biological stress response in vertebrates.
Present in the response are a group of chemicals that prime the muscles for quick, extreme movement, including cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. Respiration increases, and blood is taken from our digestive tract and surges into our muscles. Pupils dilate and senses sharpen to a heightened place of focus. All of this occurs well outside of our rational mind.
The acute stress response is marked by biological and physiological factors that trigger intuitive behaviors which are precursors to combat or escape. In my case, I apparently stand perfectly still so that I cannot be seen. Always great camouflage when one is wearing a hot pink shirt and carrying a pink taser. I’m certain if I stood quite still in that getup, I’d be completely invisible to the naked eye.
Interestingly, fight or flight in humans can take on a number of behavior manifestations. Like substance abuse. Or angry, aggressive outbursts. Or television viewing. In other words, fight or flight can be anything that allows “escape” or “fighting” – including mental escape and fight. So if one of the investigators on the team suddenly plops on the couch and starts watching television – maybe something triggered their acute stress response.
Fight or flight in humans was once a very necessary reality of everyday life. Without it, our species very likely would have been wiped out by predators eons ago. The response remains very active in today’s humans, in spite of the greatly decreased chance of being eaten by a predator. Instead, it manifests in non-life threatening situations. Like the Nordstrom’s half yearly sale. Or when something unexpected happens on a ghost hunt.
If anyone observes them – or, say, if they wind up on national television – dude, run! moments can be a little embarrassing the second our rational brain catches up to our instinctive response. And yet they happen – and we have very little control over when our bodies decide that we are in grave danger.
So I say – embrace them! We all have dude run moments that, after the fact when all threat of danger has dissipated, can make mighty amusing stories to share. I hope you’ll join us in our forum to share your favorite Dude, Run!! moment. Maybe by seeing that we aren’t the only one (I can’t be the only one, right??) we can let the healing begin.