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Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to help in answering your question. Based on the information you've identified the "deer in headlights" is more of a reaction to a stressful stimulus or confrontation than an actual condition. Most people have heard of the "fight or flight" response...though not many know of a third which is the "freeze response." The freeze response essentially occurs when confronted with a situation that is perceived as so overwhelming that our mind isn't clear as to how to manage the situation and thus "freezes." The origin of this reaction is such that a person neither stays to fight and is so overwhelmed or frightened that they become mentally "frozen" and is unable to manage.
You further mentioned not having appropriate emotions in response to the "deer in headlights." It's more along the lines that the person lacks the necessary coping skills to deal with the emotional overload.
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