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  • Amy Groven, LMFT

Fawning as a Trauma Response

Fawning is not just a means of seeking approval or avoiding conflict; it can also be a response to trauma. Trauma can shape the way we interact with others, and fawning is just one of the many ways that people may cope with the after-effects of a traumatic experience.

Fawning as a trauma response can be seen in situations where a person feels threatened or unsafe. This can include experiences of abuse, neglect, or other forms of trauma. In these situations, the person may feel that their survival depends on pleasing the person who is causing the threat. Fawning behavior can take many forms. Some people may become overly compliant and submissive, while others may become excessively agreeable or flattering. In either case, the person is essentially trying to avoid conflict or negative consequences by doing whatever they think the other person wants them to do. Many times this behavior is preemptive to avoid conflict.

While fawning can be an effective coping mechanism in the short term, it can have negative consequences over time. For example, the person may begin to feel like they are losing their sense of self, or that they are living inauthentically in order to please others. The behavior can transfer to other types of relationships as well. For instance, perhaps a person learned to fawn in response to an abusive and/or critical parent as a child, and as they grow up they exhibit fawning behavior with their teachers, coaches, partners, and bosses as a way to avoid abuse. Additionally, they may find themselves in situations where they are being taken advantage of, or where their needs and wants are being ignored. This can lead to low self-esteem and low self-worth.

Overcoming fawning as a trauma response can be a difficult process, but it is possible with the right support and resources. This often involves working with a therapist who can help the person identify the root causes of their fawning behavior, and develop new coping strategies that are more effective and empowering.

Fawning as a trauma response is a complex phenomenon that can have long-lasting effects on a person's mental health and well-being. While it may be a useful coping mechanism in the short term, it is important to address the underlying trauma and develop more effective coping strategies over time. It is possible to overcome fawning behavior and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

If you feel like the above information describes you and you are looking for a mental health clinician that can help you overcome trauma and trauma responses, please reach out to Amy Groven, LMFT at

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