“Fight or Flight,” was a common concept for many years, however, as with most findings dominated by bias, it is actually, in the hands of ill-will, patently abusive in guiding the maintenance and management of interpersonal and social relationship. Dr. Shelly Taylor theorized a Tend and Befriend Model as a chief stress response mechanism in female physiology in 2000, twenty years ago, nearly a third of an average life span. So this article attempts to make a case for a pattern found more recently in the depths of the industries of medical credentialing, and to benefit the individuals continually on the receiving end of ad-hoc trainings, treatments, and procedures that are largely ill-fitted to individuals in the LGBTQ space.
Having worked with the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, one of the first medical credentialing organizations adopting a Maintenance of Certification Requirement… those credentialed had been required to keep up with the latest understanding by periodically agreeing to be re-tested to maintain the credential, not only to move the field of one’s specialty forward, but also sunset treatments and procedures that do more harm than good. Yes, it is that sunsetting process that was missing in earlier forms of medical credentialing. There were doctors still doing treatments and procedures that were demonstrating more harm than good, though the beta endorphins produced demonstrated a positive affect in patients, so with that, let’s continue.
Now, one must be careful, because the very criticism of Tend and Befriend is in itself a not so surprising stress response to Fight or Flight being knocked of its high throne as a chief stress response; enter toxic masculinity. “Let’s fight Tend and Befriend,” is usually the unspoken mantra, and is also an undoing response, when this is presented to Boards and Leadership Teams, or the favorite is “So, moving on… [to matters more important,” is the second favorite line, which is the flight bit, again, not surprising.
Stress responses to not hearing Tend and Befriend, actually makes quite a bit of sense, and the logical criticism offered at “Fight” is that it introduces gender determinism, and while that is true, in a deterministic world, the very concept of free will is a particularly liberative billiard ball, and so too with the billiard ball of Tend and Befriend.
Now, it should be stated that in addition to these responses, there are psychological personality and dysfunction stress responses in the form of defense, transference, and counter-transference at play, and that is not the subject of this article. See Nancy McWilliams’ excellent summarization of Personality Structure in the book Psychoanalytic Diagnosis for more information on this.
Two Parallel Investigations, One Big Realization
Homosexual individuals, while outwardly stereotyped as male or female, have been demonstrated via scientific experimentation, to demonstrate the opposite brain activation, that is, a male body may operate a female brain, and a female body may operate a male brain. Some of these discoveries, like Ivanka Savic and Per Lindstrom’s article from 2008 demonstrate this fact. I’d like to see further research here for gender binary individuals, as these individuals may offer a hybridization, and offer yet another prime stress reaction that may be more or less impressive and offer new opportunities for leadership to see in new ways and find new routes to benefit society.
So when managing, relating with, reporting to, or working around the LGBTQ community, keep this in mind, because though a male form is seen, it may be feminine in affect, and responding with “that’s your ego” is particularly unhelpful (as with Fight or Flight, the very concept of Ego, Id, and Super-Ego is also an antiquated concept in recent psychological understanding). First of all, “that” is divisive in that it is not this, then “your” is projection, as it is “not mine”, and from a position of authority, “your” implies not-authority, and technically your is also an ego projection on someone else, it’s a stereotype particularly damaging, such is the world of conceits of perception in driving negative behavior, discriminating.
In the Tend and Befriend study, the study identifies a primary stress reaction different than Fight or Flight, so when an individual walks away from a stress situation, they may not be flying at all, they may be seeking out friends to tend, or potential friends to befriend [that are not the inducer of said stress, AKA: quitting for a better opportunity]. So, that’s not all, because Fight or Flight, because it’s the “or” vs. Tend and Befriend’s “and”, that is also revealing.
I’m here to tell you, that when I see someone out tending and befriending, I see a cause of stress, and look there. It took years to see this behavior inside, and know that no, nothing is wrong with me, nor wrong with them, for it is the very conceit of “me” and “them” that is what’s wrong, and I’d like to go beyond this very conceptual structure.
<Or|And> as Additional Differences
Fight or Flight is very splitting, and in the course of hetero- relations, it seems to be the case, it’s very binary, black or white. Not always, it doesn’t have to be, yet it is. It’s almost utilitarian. On the flip side, the “and”, is very transformative, it is black and white, shades of gray, and that therein is part of the issue with “and”, in that other findings back up the fact that seeing in “black or white” is actually correlated to higher levels of happiness, and that seeing in “shades of grey” is less correlated to happiness. Well, this is offered for solace to the shades of grey individuals: this happiness measured, is temporary happiness, and not lasting happiness, so to console the shades of grey readers, and yes one may read deeper into that in the LGBTQ space, because it is very well intended to go even so far as this aspect of human relations (wink).
For additional investigation, one can see Tend and Befriend in the training of “yes… and”.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
In a world arcing toward justice, yet not driving straight line distance there, one tends to talk in great circles toward the destination for meaningful <a|e>ffect. So for example, though I sit, though I hear, though I remain mindful, the free exercise of religion allows this mind to practice, “this sitting is not i”, “hearing is not self”, “just mindfulness”, for as in some spiritual endeavors, this is wisdom and should not be abridged by self-help business books professing “Ego is the Enemy”. Now while that may appear from left field, it allows one to not judge appearances and rather listen to the communications in order to solve problems at hand.
Yes, there is going to be stress. Yes there is going to be fight or flight. Yes, there is going to be tend and befriend. Yes there is going to be gay, straight, bi-, and a whole variety of cross-pollinative permutative combination in humanity. If, at all possible, I recommend highly, whole heatedly: listen the words, listen for meaning rather than tone or beauty — and that friends, is one of the most difficult, and as a disciple of aikido, this is where the real work is done.
It is hard work, of course it’s hard, of course the mountain is steep. And if, if, one can do this work, there will be nowhere one cannot go, even in the depths of a battlefield, to the highest floors of the highest towers, to government offices, to presidential suites, and to meet the highest most accomplished masters. But, and, what means more to me than all of this written, is the relationship with another and there, right there, is where this practice leads… and it’s not selling more, or acquiring more, it’s coming together, in friendship to solve problems.
And that… is why I ask… I am not a man expressing fight or flight, nor am a woman expressing tend or befriend, nor a woman’s brain in a man’s body craving tend and befriend, nor a man in a woman’s body craving fight or flight, nor beyond even these. So do not judge me by my cover, nor my friends by theirs, take the time to ask them…
What cover do you prefer [for the time being [in order to more better [realize [what all of this [is truly about?
For this being? I am here to tell you, I don’t want a cover, I left the intelligence community for this very reason, too many covers, too many secrets, and what is knowledge but power, and what is wisdom but powerless, yet beyond these…
When you truly can stand right where you are at, and perfect patience, then and only then will you be able to see me. And I know how difficult that is, but… and… yet… (hint)… it’s worth it, because that’s where all the world’s problems… are truly solved.
And… if you are having trouble managing your team? Reach out… I may be able to help.