The aim of this thesis is to explore the very pervasive, unique and specifically interpersonal nature of the please/appease survival response. The nature and origins of this response are, however, unclear in the interdisciplinary literature and theories on survival. What distinguishes the please/appease response from the widely known active (fight, flight) and passive (freeze) survival responses is its interpersonal nature and social impact. A person experiencing the please/appease survival response appears to be socially engaged (loving, caring, genuine and sincere). However, survival responses are generally described as opposing these relational qualities. They are activated in response to danger, crisis, threat or perceived threat and driven by the need for self-protection. I consider the origins, characteristics and where the please/appease response fits in the larger evolutionary conversation about survival responses. I do so specifically through narrative inquiry into my own lived experiences of pleasing and appeasing. These stories are shared in order to discern the extent to which survival response constructs and trauma theories make sense of the please/appease phenomenon. The first-person perspective in combination with an extensive interdisciplinary literature review provides insights from which to formulate a theory of the please/appease response. There is much misunderstanding around the more subtle or invisible impacts of trauma, particularly when it comes to the complexities of close relationships. A better understanding of the characteristics, origins and lived meanings associate with excessive pleasing and appeasing can contribute to appropriate educational, mental health and parenting interventions.
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Thesis advisor: Smith, Stephen
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