The “Freeze” Response & Its Deadly Reprecussions – An Expose from Brazil

When one brings up the body’s mental and physical response to an altercation, the often used “fight of flight” response is brought up. From an evolutionary or even logical perspective, the body has an excellent response to the potential happenstance of violence. Adrenaline dumps into the system with a variety of effects preparing the body for what is about to come.

Often though, the mind does not have the same response. It has a third option which happens all too often – the freeze response. For some, the mind and nervous system is simply overwhelmed or one just resigns to their possible fate with often fatal consequences.

A video made the rounds the middle of last year about a shooting in Brazil. In a brazen attack, a shooter walks up to the intended target, fires ones and misses. The victim then proceeds to stand there and do nothing for about four seconds while the shooter clears a malfunction only to then receive a second shot (which also caused the gun to malfunction).

The video is an excellent expose on the often overlooked portion of self-defense in that the self must be ready for the defense. Otherwise, your final moments will be watching your killer clear a malfunction.

For the video, check out LiveLeak here:

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Get Gudder

    Please rise for the national anthem of Brazil

  • Dougscamo

    Bad situation to employ the Jurassic Park defense mechanism….”don’t move!”….have heard this response described as “negative shock”….

  • ExMachina1

    In the video, neither of those guy appears to have directly seen the first attempt. Granted, they then looked over and saw some dude struggling with a gun (which should have been a clue). However, I’d hope that they would have reacted more appropriately if they had actually witnessed the first attempt..

  • Stuki Moi

    To initially freeze upon being shocked by a strong, previously unexperienced, external stimulus, is pretty much a given. And overall, the optimal response as well. There is a million things that could cause a loud bang next to you. Until you know with more specificity, which one of those this one was, you cannot do much better than observe. And try to integrate your observations into an appropriate plan of action. Reflexively drawing a gun and blasting away, is only rarely the correct thing to do for a civilian, or even a police officer. Or heck, even a soldier most of the time.

  • Badwolf

    Freezing is also an evolutionary response to an attack. Some predators are triggered by motion, so staying still to avoid notice or playing dead will sometimes work.

  • Klaus

    It’s “fight or flight”,no?

  • Lance Wysong

    So I’m no rocket sturgeon but it reminds me of Myotonia congenita. It is a hereditary genetic disorder and causes a very similar reaction. Check it out, you may get a laugh at the goats.

  • RealitiCzech

    “Go ahead and shoot. Game of Thrones isn’t out until July and my phone battery is dead. I’ve got nothing to live for.”

  • Paulo Marcondes

    The “don’t react” mantra has been repeated for the last 20-30 years or so by every talking head and celebrity on Brazilian tv. Now mind you that we are talking about national tv. It’s the only kind we have here.
    Now perhaps you can grasp why we are 65k violent deaths per year and counting.