Fight, Flight, Freeze… or Fib?

As the human mind has evolved, it has evolved a self-protective mechanism designed to ensure survival in instances of extreme danger or tension. Faced with a risk, the mind will have to react in a break up 2nd; deciding the right way to very best give protection to itself is an immediate response. This is broadly referred to as the “Fight or Flight” reaction1.

More recently, the sphere of psychology has added “freeze” as a significant and not unusual behavioral reaction2. In the development of a damaging attack, this will imply taking part in dead while actually petrified with concern.

Today, psychologists are starting to observe and report a fourth “F” that manifests in instances of actual or perceived risk for kids, youth, or even adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): “fib.”

The Limbic region of the brain processes an immense variety of knowledge from myriad sources. It senses the presence of danger, assesses threats, and activates defense. These Limbic constructions are ready to reply to danger. By activating the sympathetic worried device, which is in touch with the brainstem or cerebellum, an individual is “chemically fueled” by means of the supply of adrenaline being launched into the body. This adrenaline, in turn, triggers the verdict to Fight (assault and defend) or Flight (to flee) or Freeze (play lifeless). Meanwhile, the body is flooded with the tension hormone, cortisol.

As neuroscience analysis itself continues to evolve, apparently to reinforce those seen behaviors connected to worry. However, neuroscience additionally encourages us to review the development of the neocortex (the outermost layer of the mind), which is an extra street for processing ideas and a new line of self-defense achieved via language. With complex and complex language (now not available to our primitive ancestors), we be capable of verbalize both factual and/or fictitious reasoning instantaneously at level of efficiency, maximum notably in instances of tension and threat.

[Self-Test: Oppositional Defiant Disorder in Children]

As you recognize, ADHD is a situation of impaired or challenged executive function. Having coached many people (some with a diagnosis of ADHD, however all with a challenge of executive function), we've noticed this Fib mechanism as a formidable response.

The Fib mechanism protects its maker in a lot of tactics:

  1. Protection (transient) from the sensation of getting disillusioned any individual, equivalent to a parent, instructor, coach, or mentor. Fibbing ceaselessly follows deficient academic outcomes, incomplete assignments or tasks, and missed appointments or categories.
  2. Deflection (transient) of parental/ significant other anger and the anticipated result.
  3. Extension: This may be led to by a need to “purchase some time” within the momentary absence of knowledge, or information that is not applicable to the person who is perceived as a risk. This supplies the maker with an extension of available processing or thinking time. The result of the fib is not planned for.
  4. Self-preservation: Preserving vanity and self-efficacy; perceived reduced self- esteem of a “failure” due to an ADHD-related habits that ended in a unfavorable end result, resulting in shame and embarrassment.

[Free Checklist: Common Executive Function Challenges — and Solutions]

Often, a “fib” or “fabrication” does permit a person to avert a gift threat or threat, no less than for the time being. The get away from fear, embarrassment, judgment, guilt, or disgrace supplies a short lived however powerful sense of praise (or escape/victory). This is evidenced when a person lies to minimize the intensity of an inquisition about work of entirety. He is in a position to gain aid from what turns out like a barrage of questions, whilst justifying conceivable of entirety eventualities in their very own thoughts. “Oh, I’m nearly finished with the essay. I’ve only the quotes so as to add, but I've the quotes in my notes.” The reality is a ways different.

What’s extra, a person might misinform him or herself to avoid the concern of the perceived danger of their current situation. An instance of this could be delaying a complicated or unsightly job as a way to adopt one thing extra enjoyable.

Examining 4 key elements of government functioning (tailored from Russell Barkley, Ph.D.3) and the associated challenges faced by means of those with ADHD, we can understand how this self-fibbing happens easily and readily:

  1. Weak Inhibition: The incapacity to stop an motion — on this case, the verbal or bodily communique — when below power for an answer.
  2. Poor Emotional Regulation: Overwhelming fear in the face of the traumatic situation.
  3. Faulty Working Memory: Planning for the longer term result of potentially being “discovered” within the warmth of the current second does not occur. By no longer accessing the information of “the comfort of now” by contrast to the later unpleasant result, the working reminiscence weakness is clear. Also, the shortcoming of “self-talk” to self-soothe and plan a logical manner forward.
  4. Inconsistent Attention Regulation: This is also implicated if the subject had succumbed to a dire scenario from useless regulation of consideration or was distracted, inflicting their incapacity to reach luck.

So what are we able to do as folks, coaches, lecturers, mentors, or healthcare professionals to spot, give a boost to, and alleviate the affect of this hectic state of affairs and the maladaptive fibbing strategy/dependancy that follows?

  1. Use metacognitive or Socratic wondering tactics, encouraging awareness of the Fib response, and supporting the person in changing the identified response on the point of efficiency.
  2. Assist the person with making a “house for time” to be able to scale back emotions of being beaten.
  3. Create further, or intermittent duty alternatives to make sure effective self-monitoring and analysis.
  4. Encourage the person to seek help or enter from others, comparable to an accountability spouse, early in a problem-solving situation.
  5. Implement a point of view of curiosity instead of judgment. Use open-ended questioning to uncover the concern element of a scenario. “Is there one thing you're worried about?”

The evolving and adaptable human brain has passed through important growth and modification over millennia as we growth and face new threats to our survival. With the advancement of advanced brain regions and neural networks, we are able to get right of entry to a extra complex, self-preserving response past Fight, Flight, or Freeze.

The Fib or Fabrication response (whilst now not only the area of folks with ADHD) is a less a hit self-preservation strategy, but that doesn’t make it any less popular. When ADHD is within the mix, demanding situations with inhibition, emotional legislation (and motivation), attention control, and dealing reminiscence almost surely give a contribution to this phenomenon.

Still, taking a mental method might provide an opportunity for caregivers and educators to spot fibbing as a neurological response and one signal of a fractured self-esteem, now not as a personality flaw.

[Read This Next: How to Stop Anxiety and Panic Triggers]


1Oltmanns, T. and Emery, R. Abnormal Psychology, Eighth Edition. (Great Britain: Pearson Education Limited, 2015), 231.

2Lissy, F. Jarvik, MD, PhD. and Russell, Dan, MA. “Anxiety, Aging, and the Third Emergency Reaction,” Journal of Gerontology. Volume 34, March 1, 1979.

3Barkley, R. Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. (New York: Guilford Press, 2010), 7-12.

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