From all the interesting topics in our Motivation class Tonic Immobility was the one that captured my attention the most. Similar to the flight/fight response, a freeze response is said to have the same type of reaction. In the case of some animals whether they are in a dangerous or stressful situation will freeze or just play dead.
This type of response is referred to as tonic immobility. According to our text Motivation Biological, Psychological, and Environmental, by Lambert Deckers. He illustrates his point when he mentions an implication of the cusp catastrophe model is that the drop in performance can be so drastic that it is manifested as freezing which is when the individual ceases all behavior. Decker, terms this as tonic immobility which refers to the lack of behavior that occurs in reaction to extremely stressful circumstances (pg 137).
Why, this captivated my interest was the fact that a friend of mine children were attacked by pit bulls right in front of her face. These dogs ran in her house and began to attack. She was in a trance and could not move to even fight or block off the dogs as they attacked her children. Once help arrived she was able to come out of this fixated state and assist her children however she could. I truly believe that her tonic immobility came when each child was crying for her help and she did not know who to run to first so she just froze in the midst of the attacks.
The text also gave several examples of humans freezing as well. For example, when the Estonia sank in September of 1994, it was reported that the passengers were seen standing still as if paralyzed, exhausted, or in shock. Or they were just sitting there incapable of doing anything (Decker 137).
Below is a you tube video in which a possum is playing dead for his/her life. The sort of freezing or playing dead is considered to be a form of tonic immobility. This clever possum stayed in a fixated state until his prey left. He/she knew the chances of survival were slim. Enjoy.
Deckers, Lambert, (2010). Motivation Biological, Psychological, and Environmental,