Volume 2, Issue 7, page 7
The ABERREE, Novemker, 1955
By VOLNEY G. MATHISON<
3 Reactions to Danger -- 'I Want Mamma' Worst
IR WILLIAM OSLER has declared: to fight -- but to cower against and under"What happens to a patient neath the body of one's mother. This
with tuberculosis depends third mode of reacting to peril is the
more on what he has in his mode of the infant or child. It is a
head than what he has in his rather genuine attempt to return within
chest." While this statement the sheltering physical body of the mothwas made particularly with er. It is the "I-want-my-mammal" reaction.
reference to tuberculosis, If the flight or flee reaction, one
it equally refers to many other of the or the other, could always be freely and
gradually-developed -types of disease. promptly carried out in every unpleasant
Psychoanalysis has gathered a wealth of situation, there would not be so much
evidence to convince us that the choice disease-generating psychic tension in our
of an area to be attacked by illness is lives. But these two basic modes of
not by chance, but is related to the psy- action by a matured organism often cannot
chid personality. be carried out. Not under the terms of
In the field of psychiatry, doctors, modern civilization.
too, have come to an insight into the In a situation where the ancient
fundamental nature of seemingly unrelated normal subconscious impulse is to flee,
patterns of illness, and find that these the Qonscious mind may object, for reasons
of pride, prestige, and profit. To flee
fall also into a system of revelatory or- may cause one to appear to be a coward.
derliness. People, it is now found, react To flee from a rival may cause one the
to stress -- to anxieties and problems of loss
.of a desirable sexual mate. To flee
life-in either one, two, or all of THREE
BASIC WAYS. from a rich newly-staked uranium claim
because one is menaced by a murderously
The first basic way of reacting to inclined claim-jumper is to lose a...valuaanxiety and to actual danger is to flee ble-possession -- and the loss of too many
from the thing orsituation that poses a possessions entails images of death by
menace. This is a pretty good technique. way of sheer starvation.
It has worked for a billion years or so. The second available course is to
The organisms that flee from danger have stand and fight. But the enemy or the
tended thereby to survive. The subcons- danger may be of unknown power and dimenciote is completely convinced that it is sions. To attack is to risk not only dea good way to deal with serious danger. feat but possibly the loss of life itself.
The second basic way of reacting to Engulfed in a multitude of presentdanger is to charge in and ATTACK. This day situations, the modern man is supposed
is, biologically, a far more recent mode to employ his marvelous recently-develof action than fleeing. To flee does not opedcomputing conscious brain to come to
require too much intelligence or imaging a decision. This is excellent, provided
ability. Even a one-celled amoeba will he has adequate and accurate data and can
scuttle from danger. To attack requires decide promptly on a course of action.
much more of subconscious intelligence But instead, too often, he hesitates and
and -imaging power in order to deter- mulls endlessly over the problem -- to flee
mine whether the attack is likely to be or not to flee. And all the while his
successful. But it has, by now, become a subconscious maintains his nerve-organwell-established tension-discharging pro- gland-muscle systems in a tense, nevercedure. relaxed state of readiness for instant
"Attack" means, in this text, a dyna- action.
mid action for the purpose of self-defense, When a course of positive action is,
self-preservation, survival or the like, in one way or another, blocked by fear,
Excluded is the activity of the wretched indecision, and uncertainty on the psychic
soldier in a savage aggressive war who level, or by direct or potential force on
is merely the authority-entrapped pawn of the physical level, tremendous stresses
some commander. - are generated in the trapped individual.
The third mode of responding to a He goes into a never-resolved deadly batmenacing situation is neither to flee nor tie with the enemy on the mental image
AN ABRIDGEMENT FROM
'C-reative huge Therapy'