“In the end, I find I can’t separate brain from body. Consciousness isn’t just in the head. Nor is it a question of mind over body. If one takes into account the DNA directing the dance of the peptides, the body is the outward manifestation of the mind. The new science of psycho-neuro-immunology is redefining the connection between mind and body. We can no longer speak of body and mind as separate systems or entities. Bodymind – one word, no hyphen.”
Candice Pert, author of “Molecules of Emotion”
In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in the field of mind/body medicine. However the mind/body connection did not come into view until the 1800’s. Prior to that time, the mind and body were thought of as two separate parts. One pioneer in this field was Hans Selye, the father of stress research. In the twentieth century, he developed the concept of stress and the physiological response to stress by the body. He concluded that the body has the same response to many different types of stressors, and that stress can make you ill.
Since Selye’s work, others have studied the impact of stress on the body such as George Solomon at Stanford University, Robert Ader at the University of Rochester, and most recent, Candice Pert at Johns Hopkins. Her pioneering research provides evidence that chemicals, (neuropeptides) in the body are the basis for awareness and consciousness, and profoundly influence how we respond to and experience our world. “The body is not a mindless machine; the body and mind are one.” (Book; Molecules of Emotion by Candice Pert)
The stress response has been man’s survival mechanism since early times. The “Fight or Flight” response protected man from being eaten by a predator, but also enabled man to hunt for food. Today, this same response is turned on by lifestyle pressures such as the demands of work, personal and family responsibilities, health issues and environmental assaults. Then again, this same response is turned on by the birth of a child, a wedding, or taking an exam. In other words, whenever there is a rush of adrenaline, you are tapping into the stress response.
While both of the above scenarios produce a stress response, both responses do not necessarily produce harm. Hans Selye determined there are three levels of stress.
- “Good stress” has enjoyable effects and keeps individuals excited about life. These events are short term, the stress response is turned off quickly, and there are no harmful effects.
- “Neustress” does not stimulate a stress response, therefore does not have any effect on the body.
- “Bad stress” may have a prolonged impact on a person’s life and health.
What determines the effect stress has on health is how long the stress response is activated. Early man’s response to stress was probably short term. Once the hunt was over, the stress was over and their body returned to a normal state, if they were not eaten.
Today, stress is at epidemic levels. As many as 90% of medical office visits are due to stress. What upsets the body’s normal function is our attitudes, beliefs, and emotional states.
In upcoming blogs, we will delve into the world of stress, how it effects our health and well-being, and ways we can help ourselves break the cycle.
Please join us.