“A final scenario describes the incipient codependent toddler who largely bypasses the fight, flight and freeze responses and instead learns to fawn her way into the relative safety of becoming helpful. 

She may be one of the gifted children of Alice Miller’s Drama Of The Gifted Child, who discovers that a modicum of safety (safety the ultimate aim of all four of the 4F responses) can be purchased by becoming useful to the parent. Servitude, ingratiation, and forfeiture of any needs that might inconvenience and ire the parent become the most important survival strategies available.”


Trauma therapist Pete Walker discusses the four 'F' types of defensive survival responses that develop due to trauma. In this quote, he specifically speaks about the 'fawn' response, using the example of an abused child who becomes 'safe' in her household by becoming servile to her abusers. This form of codependency and people-pleasing is very common among abuse survivors who learn that in order to be safe, they have to comply with the needs of their abusers. This type of response is also commonly seen in the phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome and trauma bonding, where the abuse victim seems to develop a strong bond with his or her assailant due to the traumatic nature of the abuse.

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