We manage our protective responses to the best of our ability. Through better understanding the origins and unique mechanisms of expression of these responses, we can better recognize and then work with their non-willed (automatic) expressions. The sections below break out the layers of complexity of these systems by their evolutionary derivation, which should aid in developing skills in recognizing characteristics of both the means by which our protective responses are triggered and the associated method or mechanism of (re)action.
It can be challenging to deconstruct the various layers and response tactics of our protective mechanisms. For example, we use the word fear to describe very distinct but easily confused cognitive states. We state that a situation in which a protective response has been triggered based on the immediate status of the surroundings as fearful. We also state that the perception of some anticipated threat or a threat to which we can not adequately respond is fearful. However, for the first scenario in which a direct threat is perceived, we automatically respond protectively based on our Adaptive Capacity, which can sometimes be experienced with a sensation like exhilaration. In the second scenario, we cannot optimally respond as the threat does not exist in the present, and experience a sensation which is commonly called anxiety – a radically different state. Making sense of these distinctions, as we experience them, can assist us in managing our protective mechanisms in a manner that optimizes their efficacy while disallowing their undue influence upon, or even dominance of our experience.
Fear is is a description of how animals react to the perception of threat, having unique expressions as a Reflex, Drive, Instinct, Emotion, and expression of Ego. It is worth noting that Fear is more complex than its common description as an emotion, having found great utility as an evolving attribute of every successful evolutionary leap. This is a complex subject that has been clarified by the research of Dr. Steven Porges in his Polyvagal Theory. There has been a great deal written by him and others on this subject. This is a recent paper:
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DESCRIPTIONS OF THE EVOLUTION OF PROTECTION
The selections below section Protection into its primary evolutionary advancements. It may be helpful in clarifying the relationships between these unique, but intertwined systems to first read the paper on Exaptation.
which discusses the evolutionary mechanism that facilitates mutation towards greater complexity.
Sensing the status of the boundary of the organism, whether a single cell or multi-celled creature and then responding in a manner that aids in the persistence of the organism has proven efficacy. This subject is discussed in the paper on the:
As creatures become more complex their protective responses co-evolve. The initial solution was to contract or freeze in the manner of a snail contracting into its shell. We still experience this in our capacity to contract or freeze our core. This is discussed in the paper on:
Once animals acquired capabilities enabling movement they co-evolved protective tactics established on fighting or fleeing. These tactics were facilitated by their emerging ability to use time predictively. The characteristics of these tactics are discussed in the paper on:
As our direct ancestors, mammals evolved complex strategies for success based on group dynamics, they co-evolved complex strategies for protection. These are discussed in the paper on
Ego is the aspect of our conscious awareness that monitors for threat. If the surroundings are perceived as threatening, which is always the case for the Ego, it’s actions will dominate our awareness.
An overview of the Protective Mechanisms of Living Things, and how these systems are integrated into our neurophysiology:
An overview of the Archetypal structure within which Protection first emerged:
and a discussion of Archetypes as a model for dissecting the form and function of Living Things:
An overview of all of the models presented in this website: