Fright is an essential emotion for survival. Those of our prehistoric ancestors who did not respond to a fearful situation with fright generally did not run away or fight and their gene line will have stopped abrupdy. Adrenaline and other similar hormones called catecholamines are produced in response to frightening situations and prepare the body for action by moving blood into areas such as the heart, lungs, muscles and brain and removing it from nonessential areas such as the skin, bladder and bowel.

A severe fright or shock can produce such a surge of adrenaline that the sudden change in the position of blood in the body can cause a faint or temporary paralysis. This faint mechanism was another survival technique, namely ‘playing dead’.

Fright, like fear, is not a disease process and does not need specific treatment unless it is persistent and socially disruptive. In this case the condition is known as a phobia .