RE: Is Medicine Healthy? addiction to stress

david gobel (
Wed, 7 Apr 1999 14:52:33 -0400

Lyle Burkhead said...

>Is the list healthy?
>I had forgotten how much stress is involved in reading the list...
> But I wonder, what
effect do e-mail arguments have on our health? In spite of our talk about life extension, we may all die before our time, just from the stress.

I take this observation to be true. Plese excuse length of following.

Consider a typical mammal. It appears to experience stress only to actual environmental and somatic stressors in the here and now. Threats such as loud noises, fast movements seen, smells which alert to danger, being eaten (;-0 needing to eat...needing to mate etc

Humans share these same stressors...along with the hormonal and other cascading reactions to the stress.

Humans unlike animals have the ability to relive past and prelive/rehearse futures... think about your most recent intense truamatic event (sorry...don't try this at home if you're clinically depressed). Car crash? Loss of: Spouse? Child? Job? Erection? Health? These traumatic past events -when relived - literally recreate the stress / hormone cascade that the original stress did (although probably not to the same level). Now, think about your Boss/employer...continual low level stress, spiking with missed deadlines, and lost promotions. Hormonal reactions to things animals wouldn't even notice because to them - they don't exist... "what do you MEAN I'm not a team player". More stress caused strictly by uniquely human memorycognitive ability. Now, you fantasize/worry...WHAT IF I lose my job, wife/husband leaves me, kids get sick...more actual adrenaline/hormonal upregulation in response to THOUGHTS about things which have not, and in many cases CANNOT happen (childhood thoughts: what if I could fly, and then a MONSTER got me?).

In addition to the above, humans are one of the few creatures which often become addicted to their own stress hormones...testoterone...(sports, video games, slasher movies) and adrenaline (see previous parenthesis...oops I forgot movies et al with sexual situations) dopamine....endorphins.

In the equine world, it is too expensive and time consuming to have a prize stud actually perform the process of getting the mare ready to mate...thus there is another stallion brought near to the mare who has one job in life...get the mare ready to go! BUT, that stallion never gets to finish the job!...Imagine the stress...I wonder if anyone has ever done a longevity study on these poor "proxy studs".

The point? I now critically observe all media stimuli from the standpoint of its biological/phsychological impact on me and mine. I DO NOT even read flame wars on this list or any other. I do not see movies which I know in advance show graphic killing, sex, or other stressors which may adict me to my own stress chemicals. I can believe that Saving Private Ryan will prove to me that war is totally insane. Yet, I already believe that, and don't need to see virtual butchery.

In my household I performed an experiment on my clinically depressed son. Ad libidum entertainment was appx 2 1/2 hours video games, of the shooter type. TV was appx 4.5 hours of the edited R type (heavy action/violence) and cynical comedy of the seinfeld/satnitelive ilk. Comics appx 1/2 hour of team/gang warfare type...X Men. He was on St. Johns Wort and could/should have been on stronger stuff, constant arguments w/parents, zero interest in needs of others, growing intolerance and verbal and very mild physical abuse to younger sister,total and absolute self absorption, growing obesity etc ad nauseum...While on a walk I described to him the symptoms, causes and cure approaches to drug addiction
and then asked him to consider the possibility of his having become addicted to his own hormones.

As an experiment, we BOTH went on a media TV or Video games for 7 days. Thereafter, it was agreed in advance that TV would not exceed 1 hour per day, and in that one hour no commercials could be seen due to the continual induction of dissatisfaction which is the primary intent of commercials. Further, any pg14 or R rated program was blocked by password. As to Video games, 1/2 hour limit per day. Any breach of the protocol would cause a new 7 day exceptions.

Result. within one (ONE) week he was whistling to himself and was asking if we could play games as a family. He ceased being defensive and began to play with us good naturedly and with good humor. He has insisted on mowing the lawn to help us. He smiles...ALOT! His mother has said "what's up with him? he seems so HAPPY!?". We have not had to have an additional fast, except for one day long "cautionary time out".

No other conclusion could be reached IMO than that the drastic reduction in stressors has had a dramatic theraputic effect, and how could this not lead to longer life from both primary, secondary and tertiary affects avoided (ie moving to stronger stuff such as recreational chemicals, dangerous friends, unprotected sex[caution:parent fear talking here])

I have more to say, but i'll stop here cause I talk too much.

dave gobel
If we can't make it to 10,000 what's the point?