Tonic Immobility as an Evolved Predator Defense: Implications for Sexual Assault Survivors
Version of Record online: 16 FEB 2008
© 2008 American Psychological Association
Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice
Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 74–90, March 2008
How to Cite
Marx, B. P., Forsyth, J. P., Gallup, G. G., Fusé, T. and Lexington, J. M. (2008), Tonic Immobility as an Evolved Predator Defense: Implications for Sexual Assault Survivors. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 15: 74–90. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2008.00112.x
- Issue online: 16 FEB 2008
- Version of Record online: 16 FEB 2008
- Received April 20, 2006; revised September 25, 2006; accepted October 25, 2006.
- rape-induced paralysis;
- sexual assault;
- tonic immobility;
This article reviews research concerning the possible relationship between tonic immobility (TI) and human reactions to sexual assault. This review includes a description of the characteristic features of TI and a discussion of the most widely accepted theoretical explanation for TI. The possibility that humans may exhibit TI is explored and conditions that might elicit TI in humans are identified. In particular, we focus on TI in the context of sexual assault, because this form of trauma often involves elements that are necessary for the induction of TI in nonhuman animals, namely, fear and perceived physical restraint. The important similarities and differences in how TI manifests in humans and nonhuman animals are highlighted, future research directions are offered, and clinical implications are suggested.