Monday, July 23, 2012

So the Hysteria has a name

Hey beautiful people,
I just wanna say thank you all for reading the previous post and especially to those who commented. I'm bad at editing, Nwunye, especially when i'm sharing what i find interesting..blame the teacher in me :).

So I have since found out that my self named 'male-associated-hysteria' isn’t peculiar to me. It actually has a proper name – ‘Rape paralysis/tonic immobility” and is related to the phenomenon of “lordosis” and the “lordotic reflex”. Madame Sting and Lady Ngo were right (from previous post).

Lordotic reflex is related to what happens to an American Opossum when you scare it badly enough. It falls over on its back, curled up as in the spasms of long-ago death. People call this “playing possum” but they do not understand: the possum is not faking. It is completely paralyzed. It cannot move. It has very nearly entered a state of hibernation, with massive metabolic slowing.
This was probably originally a mutation, whereby extreme fear caused paralysis rather than full speed flight. Yet for many predators that eat opossum, an opossum they did not kill is an opossum they will not eat. Hence it is assumed that this survival trait spread in opossum genes, so that almost every opossum will become paralyzed to the point of even lowering body temperature, when sufficiently frightened.

So back to humans. Because rape is about power and control, a rapist will use a level of aggression that exceeds any resistance in order to maintain that control. Furthermore, during a traumatic assault the body’s sympathetic nervous system takes over, instinctively regulating your behaviors for the sake of survival and producing one of three basic responses: fight, flee, or freeze.
All three instincts have helpful and harmful aspects about them; they may either increase or decrease your safety. But contrary to what we see in movies and what we read in booklets promoted by the self-defense industry, the “fight instinct” is actually rather rare in both men and women. By far the most common instinct is the “freeze instinct,” in which the body becomes very still, rigid, and silent. This is called “tonic immobility,” and is a survival behavior.

Research has shown that in perhaps the majority of cases of forcible rape where the women were not much injured in the event, the victims reported a feeling of intense cold, numbness, and paralysis, an involuntary inability to call out, experiences of ‘detachment’ from self/watching self (you see why research is wonderful? Nothing new under the sun really!).
So, If you don’t fight you don’t get killed; but you may be impregnated, become infected with gonorrhea or worse AIDS. Chizoba m!!
The author thinks it has further tragic consequences for women and normal thoughtful men who have no rape intentions because they may be dealing with a woman who reacts thus. She may actually be lying there scared and paralysed and unable to voice no and the guy does not realize it (after all women are constantly accused of lying there and doing nothing!).
So dear men, the idea is Yes Means Yes and the Absence of Yes is still No!!
I know you good men out there are tired of hearing about this rape issue but until you have walked in the shoes of a woman or a rape victim for that matter you will never ever understand.
Recently I had an encounter with a friend wherein we started to play fight. When I started punching him a bit too hard, he held my hands. Wahala!!
I could feel the hysteria rising and I started begging him in a small voice to let me go, all my bravado gone.
Deep inside I knew I was safe, he was a friend I could trust totally but my brain? Adrenal cortex? didn’t know that.
So when I felt that well of hysteria rising, my rationale self fought it. I reminded myself that freezing up wasn’t even self protecting (If it was rape I was more or less handing myself over to slaughter wasn’t I?).

I told me to ‘Fight back. Free yourself. Run’ instincts that it seemed I had lost. So I did, biting, scratching and kicking. I even had the gumption to grab a kitchen knife and brandish it lol. Poor love! he didn’t understand where I was coming from.

For whatever it is, it felt like a breakthrough for me and it felt good.

When I can afford it, I will attend self defence classes (I noticed they said it isn't helpful..rolls eyes). I'll do it not because I am expecting/looking to be assaulted but cause I want to learn how to strategically use my limbs to do harm yeah! I will also learn to lt my inner lioness roar  - I heard they usually insist on students screaming/yelling during martial arts practice lol.
*You wanna bring it on?*.
To read more about rape paralysis check out these links here, here and here.


  1. So that's the story behind 'playing possum' issorait.

    That 'silence means consent' thing is just a pain that should never even be used in violent cases. I wish someone would would make "Yes Means Yes and the Absence of Yes is still No" an anthem.

    1. lol. So you've heard of 'playing possum'? I actually first heard of 'playing possum' when reading this. interesting body response.

      An anthem? Oya, if you will,lets do a music collabo. I think it will stick better in people's head that way.

  2. Rape is a heinous crime against humanity and no one should be subjected to it. However, in this day and age, it is difficult in certain situations to make a clear distinction between what actually constitutes rape. The best policy is to zip it if you aren't sure ~ easier said than done though.

    1. Zip it and dialogue my Brother! Guys shouldnt always assume that cause 'she came to my house', 'she kissed me' etc, that means she is up for sex.
      A woman kissing you passionately doesn't necessarily mean she wants to go to the next level etc etc. She may just be happy/comfortable with that.

  3. I think if you go one way and decide that the inability to call out or defend is due to "playing possum " or the so called "lordotic reflex"...i might have to ask..what use would the self defence class be?..i think if you think self-defence would be of use that means you are trying to break loose of some form of social conditioning..."innit?
    not everything can be black and white as science claims that's why research is ever on-going.
    I pray for the victims and non-victims..Amen

    1. Amen Dammy!

      Personally I avoid physical altercations (as I should) even with females cause I can't fight to save my life. Self defence classes are to give me extra having a gun. I think even if one never uses it to, it just gives you a boost to think you can.
      So yeah, I might be breaking some social conditioning cues along the way - like ladies don't fight, lol.
      And I think physiology works hand in hand with the brain. If one has fighting skills and is 'attacked' by someone of a size you can lift, then I am sure the physiological response will be 'fight' not freeze.
      If I am a good runner, my response if my attacker is hefty is flee.
      If i am helpless..freeze.

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    1. Thank you M'am.
      Castration is my method of choice..and not the chemical type favored in the States...No! give me a burdizzo.

  5. This is really cool. Thanks for the education. But let us remember that men do get raped too.

    1. Welcome to my blog Mykey.
      Men do get raped my friend, they do and i guess the social connotations of gender makes it worse.
      I was writing from a personal point, so the post is female sided, but I do have a future post for men.

  6. Rape has always been an issue for me because it almost happened to someone very close to me. I can't wrap my mind around using force to obtain sexual favors. I understand it is about power but what is that power useful for in the grand scheme of things? I will never understand it. I wholeheartedly support learning to defend yourself and reconditioning the mind from playing possum to fight mode. I own a taser and I am not afraid to use it. I just pray the occasion never arises.

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  8. interesting and very educative Ginger! rape is a serious issue that leaves the victims scarred for life

  9. Yeah, the playing possum research. Glad you got to it and this length is much better. Good girl. Now say 5 Hail Marys and don't do it again.

    *Putting it out there*

  10. Educating, Thanks for sharing



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