Fight, Flight, Freeze=Fibromyalgia?

UNITED STATES — Over 101 years ago FIGHT OR FLIGHT was termed by Wisconsinite Walter Cannon, describing animals that were faced with threat.

Do I run and flight? Do I charge and fight?

The addition of a freeze (aka Fawn response) is a concept summed up nicely by “the odds are overwhelming we neither fight nor flee but simply freeze.

This is logical because many times FREEZE is the path of least resistance.

Some of you may be unaware that there are physiological processes happening at the same time that the brain is overcome with fear. The sympathetic nervous system releases emergency hormones and neurotransmitters that quicken the heart, slow your digestion, and divert blood to necessary muscles: all designed to give us extra energy and strength to fight or run, depending.’s Leon Seltzer explains that the freeze response, if activated during childhood as “unrectified trauma,” can manifest into PTSD or other future “paralyzing” troubles such as obsessive behavior, phobias, and panic/anxiety.

Remember that fight or flight is a reaction to not just ANY stress, but extremely violent and traumatizing, life or death circumstances.

There’s a quiz at NPR (National Public Radio) asking specific questions based on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). I scored a 9 and NOW FEEL completely authorized to talk about childhood trauma.

Hell, I kind of feel like an expert.

My familial home was so violent that my body twitched with the sound of my father’s steps. Beatings, bone fractures, telltale scars of cruelty. Verbal ridicule at the dinner table AND family picnics. Multiple perpetrators of sexual abuse and what they are referring to as polyvictimization. I learned to freeze real early because sometimes if people couldn’t wake you up — they left you alone!

Often times, I shook uncontrollably, similar to the body’s reaction to freezing cold weather.

I theorize that fight, flight, or freeze’s oversupply of reaction-causing hormones is a HUGE FACTOR — IF NOT THE CAUSE OF Fibromyalgia.

Take a look at some of the suspected culprits that our body produces in response to trauma:

Dopamine — controls emotional responses. They say it’s important to the BASAL GANGLIA and Emory University reports that LESIONS in this “dopaminergic pathway causes Parkinson’s disease.”

Cortisol — claims humans are so stressed in today’s world that the anti-inflammatory CORTISOL does not return to normal levels before the next stress response. Too much affects muscles, bones, and immune function.

Acetylcholine — a go-between for motor nerves and skeletal muscles. COINCIDENTALLY it feeds the PILOERECTOR MUSCLE, associated with SMOOT MUSCLE: “muscle tissue that contracts without conscious control.”

Epinepherine — “released during acute stress” and can “divert blood to tissues under stress.

Norepinephrine — catecholamines that function “as a hormone,” and stored in “synaptic vesicles” until emotions trigger release. Imbalance causes depression, anxiety, problems with mood and fatigue.

The message-carrying Somatic part of the Peripheral Nervous System is interesting, but let’s focus on the Autonomic Nervous System’s little understood Enteric component — complex like the spinal cord, with transmitting and processing capabilities.

Non-stop childhood violence leads to fight or flight hormones and neurochemicals being produced at a higher level than normal people. 35 years later and I have (or have had) dysfunction with all components of the ENTERIC system: nerves (fibromyalgia), gall bladder, and pancreas.

It seems logical that if someone with my trauma history has extraordinary damage of unknown origin to my Enteric System, and also fibromyalgia: IT NEEDS FURTHER STUDY!

There’s research showing correlation between skin and sympathetic nerve fibers. FAULTY system of nerves. Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease. Abnormal blood flow. Genetics and infections.

In the end, I suspect several things that could be responsible individually or in combination:

#1 Good old smacks to the head. I believe passageways in the brain could be altered by scar tissue, and this would cause an abnormal flow of blood, as research shows.

#2 AXOMS. They come together like a confluence that feeds the spinal cord and are altered by excretions sparked by trauma. They become TRACTS in the brain and NERVES in the body. Could these two not be communicating in a way WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND?

In the interest of honesty and science, I must add that my foot was broken twice during toddler years, and because the peripheral nerve system runs to the feet, it shouldn’t be ruled out just yet.

Hopefully this input is someday used for research into childhood abuse and it’s crippling effects on the human life.

Go take the ACE test yourself!

Originally published at on April 10, 2016.