The Fear Paralysis Reflex

Balancing to Resolve Fear Paralysis Reflex and its Effects on Learning, Behavior, and Performance

by Kathy Brown, M.Ed

Background information: Many academic and behavior issues have at their core the incomplete progression of childhood reflexes. These reflexes should each develop in the childʼs system, become fully integrated and useful as a neural pattern, and then “inhibit,” or fall away, so the use of the pattern can be a choice, rather than an inevitable reaction. Early trauma can cause the orderly progression of reflexes to go into a “holding pattern,” resulting in a wide variety of emotional, physical and academic challenges. Fortunately, these reflex challenges resolve quickly and effectively when addressed through specific Brain Gym processes. For more background information, please see “Retained Reflexes in Children and Adults” under “Articles” at

The Fear Paralysis Reflex is the key to all other reflexes. It is the first reflex to manifest. Indeed, the Fear Paralysis reflex is intended to develop, become integrated, and “inhibit,” or fall away, all in utero, long before birth. If the Fear Paralysis Reflex (FPR) does not follow the intended route of development, the childʼs (or adultʼs) system is left locked in a fear state that permeates all waking and sleep activity. If Fear Paralysis is still active all situations are seen through a filter of fear. A list of behaviors that may manifest due to lack of resolution of Fear Paralysis Reflex is as follows:

  • low tolerance to stress
  • anxiety seemingly unrelated to reality
  • hypersensitivity to touch, sound, specific frequencies of sound, changes in visual field
  • dislike of change or surprise/poor adaptability
  • fatigue
  • elective mutism - the persistent failure to speak in specific situations where speaking is expected, despite the ability to speak otherwise
  • holding breath
  • fear of social embarrassment
  • Insecure
    •  Lack of trust in oneself.
    •  May become socially isolated and withdrawn.
    •  Overly clingy or may be unable to accept or demonstrate affection easily
    • Fear of school
    • Compulsive traits/OCD
    • Negativism, defeatist attitude
    •  Wonʼt try new activities, especially where comparison occurs or excellence is expected
  • Depression
  • Temper tantrums
  • Controlling or oppositional behavior, especially at home
  • Immediate motor paralysis under stress - canʼt think and move at the same time
  • Reduced muscle tone
  • Eating disorders
  • Craves attention
  • Aggressive behavior borne out of frustration and confusion
  • Poor balance

Children or adults with FPR still “on” in their system will typically manifest a cluster of these behaviors– the more fully the reflex manifests, the more pronounced the behaviors will be, and the more severe the implications in their life. Like all reflex issues, Fear Paralysis Reflex responds quickly and easily to the Brain Gym balance process.

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