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Halloween and “Fight or Flight” response


co-grim-reaper.JPGTrick-or-treating at my friend Heidi’s house featured tall husband Lonnie dressed as the grim reaper, standing by the grave display in their yard. He stood perfectly still until someone approached and then with a slowly sweeping hand he pointed the way to the candy bowl. People down the block were eyeing him, and worried about him, long before they got to the house.

“Is it real?” “I don’t think so.”

Some trick-or-treaters just plain avoided the house. One boy decided to hit the grim reaper, and hit and hit and hit him. The mother was ashamed, but as Heidi remarked to me, it is interesting to see what reactions kids have to being scared.

Fight or flight: that’s how we react. Some run, some hit. Freezing, playing possum is a form of flight.

This fight-or-flight response, also called hyperarousal or acute stress response, was first described by Walter Cannon in 1915. His theory states that animals react to threats “with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing.” [Wikipedia, Fight or Flight]

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