What is the fawn response? (+5 Proven treatments)

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Page last updated: 10/11/2022

This detailed article will be explaining what the fawn response is and the signs that someone is having a fawn response. We will be next checking out the causes of the fawn response and the available treatments for this.

What is the fawn response?

The fawn response is a set of behaviors that someone expresses when they have experienced recent trauma. In this type of response, the person starts to try to please others by compromising on their own needs in order to avoid conflict.

The fawn response is just one of the types of trauma responses, the others being the fight response, the flight response or the freeze response. This response is also known as the people-pleasing response since the person tries their best to appease others.

Fawning can lead a person to become too codependent on others so much so that their entire identity is diluted. They might lack self-esteem and may not be able to make a decision all by themselves.

Signs of the fawn response

Fawning can manifest in different ways in different people. But the most common signs of someone demonstrating the fawn response have been listed as follows.

Having trouble accepting rejection from others

This is the biggest sign of a fawn response. Those who are used to fawning cannot take rejection from someone else, especially if this is someone close like a caregiver or even a romantic partner. In case of rejection, they may become depressed or overly attentive.

Constantly trying to please someone else

Fawning is also known as people-pleasing. Those who have become used to fawning as a response to trauma often put the needs of others before their own and may try to constantly please everyone else.

Not being assertive in decisions

Fawners also show very poor assertiveness. They may be unlikely to make a decision on their own. Even if they somehow manage to be vocal about their needs, in the face of rejection they may instantly give up and do what the other person wants to.

Not mentioning or talking about their needs

Not only do they constantly put others needs before their own, but fawners might never mention their own needs and requirements. In the event that someone asks about their needs, those who exhibit fawning may simply dismiss the statement or freeze.

This can come across as being selfless and kind, but when it goes to the point of a complete dismissal of one’s needs, it can become a huge problem. They may even ignore their emergency medical or health needs to take care of someone else.

Apologizing too much for even little mistakes

Even if the mistake they have made is a very simple and harmless one, those who exhibit fawning may start apologizing too much. Apart from simple apologies, they may also try to make up for the mistake with an over-the-top gesture.

Worrying and obsessing about other’s emotional responses

Fawning often comes as a result of unpredictable responses from others. In a bid to stay safe, fawners usually try their best to regulate and control the emotional responses from others. This is mostly done by keeping the environment pleasing to always elicit positivity from others.

Trying to play the ‘savior’ role for others

This can especially be seen in the romantic relationships of which the fawner is a part of. They may often try to save the other person from harm or danger, all the while evading or avoiding confrontation on their own.

This can not only be seen in romances, but even other social relationships like friendships and even workplace relationships. By becoming the savior for someone else’s needs, the fawner feels like they will be able to easily control the emotions of the other person.

Suddenly changing personal aims to match those of others

When it comes to personal identity, those who are exhibiting fawning may lack their own genuine one. And therefore, their personal goals and aims may suddenly change to match the ones of those who are close to them, like their romantic partners.

This is not only true to the romantic relationships of the fawners, but even the relationships they share with their parents, their caregivers and even their bosses. Thus, they may constantly switch jobs and careers to please important people in their life.

Causes of the fawn response

Fawning can occur in people due to many causes, but mostly those involving heavy emotional trauma. The trauma can be sudden or inflicted slowly for a long period of time. The most common causes of the fawn response are:

Narcissistic parents

Fawn response often comes because of having a parent who is very narcissistic. This can be because of the self-obsession of one parent or both the parents together. When the child has a narcissistic parent, they have no other way to cope but to be codependent on them.

Helicopter-parents

Helicopter parents who like to be always in the background of their children’s lives can also lead to a fawning response. Since the child knows that their parents are always there in every situation, they find it difficult to do anything on their own and are overly attached to them.

Neglect in childhood

Just like how overly attached parents can lead to a fawn response later, even neglect of children can lead to fawning. If a child feels neglected by their parents or their caregivers, they tend to develop a fawn response as a means of keeping the connection alive.

Childhood abuse

Any type of abuse, physical, emotional or sexual, is bound to lead to trauma. Children who have experienced some sort of abuse from their parents or their caregivers may exhibit fawning later since this is the only way to receive comfort and care according to them.

Treatments for the fawn response

Fawning may not be an exact clinical condition but can definitely lead to a less-satisfactory life and even mental health illnesses like depression. Some of the most commonly used treatments for fawning exhibited by people are described in the section below.

Through psycho-education

The first thing to do if you feel that you are showing a fawn response or people-pleasing too much is to educate yourself about this response. You also need to improve your understanding and acceptance of the traumas which you may have experienced before.

By increasing self-awareness

Once you have understood the response and how you exhibit it, you need to start becoming aware of the signs of fawning that you personally exhibit. When you become more aware of the signs of fawning, you can start controlling them or regulating them better.

By actively validating feelings

In case you are someone who exhibits the fawn response often, you need to start validating your feelings or putting your feelings first. This can be difficult to do, but when you realize your worth and the value that you bring, it becomes easier.

By improving relationships with others

If you are someone who has fawned throughout life, it is most likely that the social relationships that you have developed for yourself are not going to be healthy and constructive. You can try creating new healthy relationships as a fresh start.

By learning how to be assertive

If you are developing new healthy bongs with others, you need to start being assertive right from the beginning. Being assertive means standing up for your rights, and also saying ‘no’ to things that you are not comfortable with.

Conclusion

This detailed article has explained what the fawn response is and the signs that someone is having a fawn response. We have then checked out the causes of the fawn response and the available treatments for this.

If you like this article, please post your comments and questions in the space below.

Citations

https://www.pacesconnection.com/blog/the-trauma-response-of-fawning-aka-people-pleasing-part-one
https://cptsdfoundation.org/2022/02/21/rejection-trauma-and-the-freeze-fawn-response/
https://www.simplypsychology.org/fight-flight-freeze-fawn.html
https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-does-fight-flight-freeze-fawn-mean
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-and-recovery/202008/understanding-fight-flight-freeze-and-the-fawn-response
https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1999-00325-006
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722782/