Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
Robert Zapolsky, professor of neurology at Stanford University, has some thoughts on stress, particularly chronic stress. Zapolsky maintains that Zebras don’t get ulcers because in response to a stressful situation zebras either die after 3 minutes of screaming in terror or escape to freedom if fate should smile on them. Humans on the other hand, have what is called an “anticipatory stress response.” Homeostasis is what we aim for, which means that we are functioning in a state of equilibrium or balance. In the case of the zebra, the lion-predator would be the key to disrupting the homeostatic balance in the internal and external environment of the zebra. For the human however, and this is the clincher, even the expectation of being thrown out of homeostatic balance will cause that very fear to manifest and disrupt our homeostatic state causing illness. What this translates to is that if we expect to get sick, or expect bad things to happen, they will.
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