Stress: Portrait of a Killer (with Stanford Biologist Robert Sapolsky)

“The conditions in which we live and work are absolutely vital to our health.”

Are we brave enough to learn from a baboon?

Highly recommended viewing:
Stress – Portrait of a Killer

“The implication both of the Baboon research and the Whitehall Study of British Civil Servants is how can we create a society that has the conditions that allow people to flourish?

“Control is intimately related to where you are in the occupational hierarchy…When people report they have more control in their work, they’re being treated more fairly, there’s more justice…the amount of illness goes down…

“Give people more involvement in their work, give them more say in what they’re doing, give them more reward for the amount of effort they put out and it might be that you not only have a healthier workforce but a more productive workplace as well.”

Michael Marmoot, The Whitehall Study, University College Medical School, London

Intelligence comes at a price.

The human species, despite its talent for solving problems, has managed over the millennia to turn one of its most basic survival mechanisms–the stress response–against itself.

“Essentially,” says Stanford University neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky, “we’ve evolved to be smart enough to make ourselves sick.”

This sobering and fascinating documentary explores neurobiological research into the effects of sustained stress that causes us ‘marinade’ in ‘a corrosive bath of toxic chemicals’ …

  • ~ the links of stress levels to our place in work and social hierarchies (the higher our position, the less our stress):
  • ~ the likelihood of prolonged stress causing heart disease, premature ageing and obesity:
  • ~ the damaging effects of stress on our the part of our brain responsible for learning and memory;
  • ~ the permanently damaging effects for a person if subjected to sustained stress in the womb.

The clear message is that we need to let go our admiration for the multitasking high-octane high-stakes lifestyle and learn to value a more balanced and serene way of living.

The more hopeful story, from a study of mothers of disabled children, is that compassion and caring for other people seems to be a very good remedy, and even repairs damage caused by prolonged stress.

It is really worth watching through for the happy ending story for a troupe a baboons, who, after the aggressive stress-inducing alpha males were wiped up by disease, have become a female-dominated, socially interconnected, low stress and thriving community…

“What can these baboons teach humanity?

+ Don’t bite someone just because you’re having a bad day.
+ Social affiliation is a remarkably powerful thing.
+ One of the greatest forms of sociality is giving rather than receiving.

And all of these things make for a better world.

Stanford Biologist, Robert Sapolsky

And the morale of this research would be….


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