Action or Avoidance

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Action or Avoidance (SM-AA) is a survival mechanism of the physical unit that is activated when the physical unit perceives threat. The Action or Avoidance mechanism primes the body for rapid action, preempts cortical controls, and temporarily transfers functional control of the body's motor systems to "lower" brain centers in order to ensure rapid responses to threats. Action and avoidance is critical when environmental threats make careful consideration, or deep analysis, likely to lead to the termination of the physical unit.

Action and avoidance mechanisms represent a super-set of the so called "fight or flight" response identified by Old Energy Psychology. According to old energy psychologists, when animals are threatened they either “fight or flee.” This is true. When animals perceive threat, survival mechanisms are triggered and they either fight if a low level cognitive assessment indicates they have a reasonable chance of winning, or flee, if power differentials are too great and flight is the only viable survival response.

It should be noted that “fight or flight” represents the survival programming of physical units without a highly developed isocortex. Physical units with highly developed cortical regions will have a wider range of available responses, many of which will not be easily collapsed into “fight” or “flight.” For example, a physical unit threatened by a predatorial parent may not fight or flee, but instead may take more creative control of the environment. SM-AA response patterns, while not infinite, are generally more variable and creative in animals with developed cortical structures. A complete understanding of Survival mechanisms requires that the analyst not reduce complex human behaviour to the simpler forms of behaviour observed in rats, mice, or even wolves.

Survival Mechanism Functions

  • Hormone release supporting rapid physical action
  • Hormone release encouraging/enhancing the experience of fear
  • Modification of circulatory functions to support rapid or violent movement (dilation of blood vessels in the extremities)
  • Temporary pre-emptation of cortical control, transfer of control over motor functions to lower centers

See Also

Survival Mechanisms

Survival Mechanism Functions