stress

Stress: good or bad? In your control or out of your control?

Thursday, March 10, 2011 by: Jane Goldberg
Tags: stress, cancer, health news

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) As a psychoanalyst who has specialized in working with cancer patients, I hear the word "stress" frequently. When a new cancer patient comes into my office, I will generally ask the person why they think they have cancer. Some patients are puzzled by the question, and say that they don't know. But a fair number of them will speculate, and many of them will use the word "stress" to describe emotional situations that they had felt themselves to be in some time before the cancer diagnosis. They describe their situation as untenable- an emotional "dead end" that they couldn't find their way out of. One of my cancer patients stated that getting cancer was "the only way out" for her because her life had become intolerably "stressful."

I have wondered about the frequent reference to the concept of stress, and its ubiquitous prevalence. It is used, most often, to refer to some external situation, an agent outside the person's control. Pundits on contemporary culture suggest that it is inherent in modern life, we are all susceptible to it, and it surrounds us all the time. According to this way of thinking, a portion of us develop serious, even life-threatening diseases because of it.

Yet, this usage and understanding of stress as an external agent impinging on us contradicts the original meaning of the concept, which was developed as both a scientific and medical concept. Hans Selye did the initial research on the concept, and coined the term. He was searching for a new hormone, and thought that he had discovered it when he injected a substance into rats, and, indeed, they produced a triad of symptoms at the site of the injection that had never been seen before. Then he injected a known hormone into more rats, and they reacted in precisely the same way. And then he injected a third hormone, also a known hormone; same reaction. It didn't matter what substance he used; the rats were all getting sick in the same way. Selye began to understand that there was a general principle in operation that was more powerful than the specific substance that was being used. He called that principle "stress," by which he meant the body's response to any change that creates a demand on the organism. Selye put the responsibility of the stress response clearly on the organism itself-not on the specific nature of the stimulus.

It is important to understand the implications of this difference between what Selye meant, and what my patients mean when they say their cancer is caused by stress. If stress is simply exposure to a "bad" or "toxic," or "noxious" stimulus, then the trick to staying healthy would be to avoid all such stimuli or situations. We can do that in some situations. If we are fearful of snakes, for instance, we can stay out of the woods. But if not having enough money is stressful, or if having a mother suffering from Alzheimer's is stressful- there are situations like these that are unavoidable. Often, in these kinds of situations, we feel helpless to control our own emotional destinies; this sensation leads to a rather disempowering notion of what life means.

Selye's definition of stress is a much more hopeful concept; it lays the power of avoiding stress not on some external situation that may be beyond our control, but rather on our own selves, our own reactions. We determine whether we are in stress or not by our responses.

It is the brain that determines whether we will experience the sensation of stress. The brain has evolved to have the capacity to deal with stress for about 30 seconds. If you are under threat - for instance by a hungry crocodile - in under a minute, your stress sensation will be over. You will either have escaped or you will have been eaten. The brain has not yet adapted to the sensation of long-term stress. The sensation of chronic stress damages virtually every aspect of brain functioning. It damages memory, executive function, perception, and motor skills. The brain actually shrinks in size.

If we look at the history of science, we see that it keeps forgetting, and then re-discovering basic principles. Selye's research harkens back to the issue that permeated the medical labs at the time that Pasteur was discovering the germ. Pasteur developed the idea that germs, in the form of microorganisms, were causing disease. The germs attack us as innocent by-standers, who just happen to get ourselves unknowingly in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Claude Bernard, a contemporary of Pasteur's had a different idea. He felt that the germ itself was not the problem; the problem was the host terrain that either accepted the germ and let it go rampant toward its destructive capability, or whether the organism that was hosting the germ mounted a sufficient defense against this toxic invading intruder that there was, as we might say today, damage control.

Pasteur realized on this deathbed that his whole life's work had been barking up the wrong tree, and he uttered one of the most frequently cited phrases in medical history: "Bernard avait raison; le germ n'est rien; c'est le terrain qui est tout;" (Bernard is right; the germ is nothing; the host terrain is everything). Unfortunately for medical history, and for cancer research specifically, Pasteur's idea took hold, and this country has spent billions of dollars researching thousands of substances to see which ones "cause" cancer. It is only within the last few decades that research has gotten serious about understanding the role of the immune system in the development of disease. And, there is almost no research on understanding the nature of what I call the "psychological immune system," a concept I developed and refer to in my book, The Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Cancer.

Selye also developed the concept of "eustress." As there is distress, which causes discomfort and even disease, there is its opposite, eustress, which is stimulative, beneficial and promotes health. Selye was clear: stress itself is not bad. To the contrary, being exposed to stressful situations can improve the organism, make it healthier and even promote longer life. We can see this eustress principle at operation in our everyday lives. A student studying for a test feels stress, but the stress motivates him to master the material, and he ends up with more knowledge - as long as he doesn't pull multiple all-nighters. Similarly, moderate exercise strengthens our bodies while excessive exercise debilitates our bodies. One of the best researched effects of eustress has to do with food deprivation. Moderate reduced food intake leading to longer life is a well-established finding; however, prolonged food deprivation (as in anorexia) leads to undue stress, and eventual death.

In evoking the concept is eustress, Selye was referring back to an older principle called "hormesis." Like eustress, hormesis describes that there can be a beneficial adaptation to stress. In referring to the hormesis effect, the 16th century physician Paracelsus said, "The dose makes the poison." Paracelsus meant that the intensity, or the quantity of the stressing agent is a critical variable in determining whether the reaction to the stress will benefit the organism, or damage it. Since then, science has repeatedly documented this effect to be universally applicable. For instance, in World War II, when supplies of penicillin were limited, it was demonstrated that at low doses, penicillin actually stimulated the growth of Staphylococcus. In hormesis, as in eustress, less is more: a small dose activates, stimulates, and facilitates health; a large dose causes degeneration and destroys.

The science of homeopathy is based on this hormetic principle. Minute doses of substances - even minute doses of what would be an actual poison in a larger dosage - can cure. And while homeopathy has not yet entered mainstream medicine, research into the hormetic effect has recently influenced the fields on anti-aging and disease, and in surprising ways. We now understand that any organism - as small as a cell, as large as a human being - rallies a defense mechanism in response to a threat. And once this defense mechanism is activated, the organism is better prepared to deal not only with that specific threat, but with other threats as well. This activation of defense happens on a molecular level. Recently, the role of a class of herbs called adaptogens has been studied for their hormetic effect. The adaptogens mimic eutress in the body, turning on various hormetic-response molecules, and thereby stimulating the whole body into a healthier and longer lifespan.

The moral of the story: 1) Take your stresses in low doses but don't avoid them altogether, 2) recognize the stressing agent is within. Blame doesn't work. Recognition of the responsibility for your own responses carries the day.

To read more about my research, you can find my books at Amazon:

The Deceits of the Mind

The Dark Side of Love

Because People are Dying

About the author:
Jane G. Goldberg, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author of 7 books, including the acclaimed, The Dark Side of Love. As well, she is the owner of La Casa Day Spa in NYC , now celebrating its 18th year anniversary. In her specialization of working with cancer patients, Dr. Goldberg has integrated her psychoanalytic work with the field of holistic health. She has worked with many cancer patients who, through commitment to sound principles of health as well as an interest in the exploration of their mental, emotional and psychic states, have defied the statistical odds and consider themselves "cured."

Dr. Goldberg is also the Founder and Director of Brainercize, a system of interactive integrative brain exercise classes designed to maximize brain functioning.

Dr. Goldberg's books at Amazon:

The Deceits of the Mind

The Dark Side of Love

Because People areDying

Follow Jane Golberg Ph.D. on Twitter: JaneGoldbergNY

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.


Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...



GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Now Available at ShopNaturalNews.com

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Podcasts
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...

 

Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...

 

Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through NaturalNews.com, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at www.StorableOrganics.com



Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
GMOs
Quackwatch
Vaccines
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.