Excessive Empathy // Fawning as Trauma Response
‘You are prioritizing safety to others to the point that you become dangerous to yourself’.
I found myself saying to an overly-compassionate client describing classic fawning behavior.
As I finalize ‘Guide for Guides : Ethical Psychedelic Spaceholding’ the realization I came to post-graduate school for therapy returns – most are unaware that beyond fight or flight there are additional trauma responses that include freezing & fawning / appeasing.
Fawning involves hyper vigilance in scanning for the socioemotional cues of those around you & prioritizing taking care of the needs of others over yourself.
Although in small doses this can be seen as pro-social empathy / compassion, when this behavior interferes with your capacity for self-care, it could be due to an involuntary survival response.
When caretaking others becomes a compulsive response to create safety in your environment as a prerequisite for your internal safety or ability to care for yourself, it is often due to childhood trauma in which a primary caregiver required care from you as a child, or a setting in which it was unsafe / judged for you to express your needs.
Our current culture does not acknowledge the more ‘social’ trauma response of fawning, and those of us acculturated as female are particularly steered towards fawning as encouraged behavior.
Pulling upon my studies and client experience with those who have a primary orientation towards fawning as their trauma response, I will share my reliable recommendations for how to create sovereignty from fawning. These insights will also be helpful to create social spaciousness for those who describe themselves as over empathetic or hypersensitive.