Your Amazing Body: Flight or Fight

Posted By on October 15, 2010

.: Human beings are among the most adaptable species on this planet and its orbiting satellites. Our resilient and malleable forms come with many features which, though used frequently, are rarely noticed or understood by those using them. The purpose of this series is to acquaint you with the nooks, crannies, and other hidden mysteries of that thing which makes you, you: your amazing body.

Flight or Fight

.: Your body has two competing nervous systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the callous nervous system. The former, more understanding of the two is activated whenever you are minding your own business and a lion decides it wants to eat you, mate with you, mate with you then eat you, or eat you then mate with you. Humans, as is the case with the majority of mammals, are born with what ethologists term Instinctual Being Consumed Aversion. This instinct alerts your sympathetic nervous system to the danger posed by the lion, and your body is forced to choose* either to fight the lion (unlikely to succeed) or flee from the lion (also unlikely to succeed).

.: Another option not frequently mentioned (on account of the word not ending with an “‑ight” rhyme) is the freeze response. In this scenario, your body will arrest all locomotion so that the advancing lion will not have to exert extra energy as it devours you. The evident advantage towards the predator in this species-species relationship has led evolutionary biologists to explain this behavior in terms of intergroup selection.

.: Additionally, a fourth category not currently recognized by all scientists is the fright response, a defense strategy wherein your body tries to scare any potential predators with an onslaught of shock cuts, fake blood, and Vincent Price.

.: As our species moves further away from lion-infested jungles and closer to jackass-infested cities, our bodies’ flight or fight responses must be constantly updated and retooled. Whereas in the simpler golden age of prehistory mankind merely had to fight or flee from certain death on a daily basis, today’s chaotic and morally-bankrupt society rarely must confront That To Which All Must Eventually Succumb. Consequently, our flight or fight responses manifest only during trivial interactions, such as solicitations from potential dates, Amway representatives, or costermongers.

NEXT WEEK: learn how your amazing body responds to exercise.

*Not actually a choice.

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