FPR: Fear Paralysis Reflex, Moro reflex

Why baby reflexes may be at the root of your anxiety

When you were a tiny little foetus, only around five weeks old, your central nervous system started reacting to external stimulus. When there was a sudden loud noise, you would instinctively shrink to avoid potential danger.

Fear Paralysis Reflex

This instinctive reaction is the Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR), and is the first of our reflexes to appear. It should disappear in the third trimester, as it finishes doing its job and the Moro reflex takes over ready for birth.

However, excessive stress in pregnancy can cause the FPR to remain active in the system. The result is that we recoil, shrink, tense up and sometimes even feel slow and sluggish when we face a stressful situation, and this, of course, has an effect on emotional development and behaviour, and how we cope with the world around us.

Anxiety is a feeling of the world rushing past you, while you want to curl into a ball – just like the FPR.

The good news…

The great news for anxiety sufferers is that by repeating foetal movements, it is possible to get the central nervous system to “reboot”. In fact, it is possible reboot and calm the central nervous system with as little as five minutes of gentle movement per day.

An assessment with a neurodevelopmental therapist involves a questionnaire, which goes right back to details of a person’s birth and childhood, including anything they might have struggled with as a child or over the years. The therapist observes carefully and tests a number of reflexes to see where attention needs to be focussed first, and does a number of gentle movements – some similar to a very gentle form of yoga and some moving so gently that you’d think it wouldn’t do anything at all.

Having assessed, with a plan of action in place, the therapist will then give the client a menu of movements that need to be repeated every day, until the next appointment. This is crucial! It takes around 3-4 weeks to make those new brain connections, but only if they are done every day.

Often, people arrive for a first appointment with their shoulders almost to their ears, because anxiety is so great. I’ve seen people leave looking as if they have breathed out all their anxiety, and they report feeling like a completely different person.

A couple of weeks ago, I worked with an adult who reported that his mother had gone through a very traumatic birth with him, and consequently found bonding and attachment with him very hard. Consequently, he finds bonding and attachment very hard. We did some gentle pressure work and some movement: he took a deep sigh and tears rolled down his face. He said he felt tension lift from his diaphragm and “relief” from a life of carrying stress and anxiety around.

Drug-free help for anxiety

I love my work for Move2Connect, because I like to see people discover that they have the power to transform themselves using very simple movements over a period of a few weeks at a time.

I have a special interest in adult and adolescent mental health, and practice from my clinics in Horsham and Cranleigh.


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