Does this ever happen to you? While having a normal conversation with your partner, one of you gets triggered into a sudden extreme reaction. It may become a hot volcanic explosion or a cold freeze when one person shuts the connection down completely.
We call this “Sudden Reaction Syndrome”. Perhaps you were talking about a chore to be done or a bill to be paid. Maybe it occurred during a simple discussion about an upcoming event or another person. Without warning, and often without explanation, there’s yelling, blaming, bickering… or abrupt withdrawal.
Many people try to solve or fix the conflict by asking, “Who started it?” This question is not very helpful; it’s better to inquire, “Why does this keep happening?” Even more important is the question, “What can we do to prevent it from happening again?”
To change the nature of vicious reaction cycles, you need to understand trauma, which is usually at the core of Sudden Reaction Syndrome (SRS). In clinical literature, the severe form is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
However, sudden reactions come in a very wide range, from mild to severe. On one side of the spectrum are outward-directed reactions, such as:
- Escalation in language or tone (outbursts of anger, blame, etc.)
- Expressions of verbal or physical domination and control
- Threatening non-verbal body language or facial expressions
- Moderate to high drama
- Momentary or sustained violence.
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