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Forgo Fight-or-Flight

Reduce stress-related illness/death.
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The fight-or-flight reflex has served humans well in the past. When battling a perturbed mammoth, the release of supercharge chemicals proved invaluable, giving our forebears the Popeye-like strength and agility required to avoid a grim demise. Thanks glandular system, we owe you one.

Modern humans carry the same chemical cocktail reflex, however it is more usually released when no imminent physical activity is likely. I’m of course referring to office job stress. End result, plenty of unused fatty acids and plenty of stress-related illness/death.

Judging one’s modern life to pass uneventfully, without the need to slay/evade a wild beast beyond that of your baseline abilities, one might elect to forgo the fight-or-flight reflex. This would involve the surgical removal of the offending gland(s), followed by lifelong pill-based replacement of baseline-concentration chemical secretion if required.

Mental stress would still be there, but the physical effects would be eliminated. A long and relaxed life may result. Or not. What am I, a doctor?

Texticle, May 22 2007

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       A lobotomy would probably accomplish the same thing.
nuclear hobo, May 23 2007
  

       I guess the people who would sign up would make a judgement that they are likely to live their lives without being confronted by a gang of violent teens. The car thing is interesting though. If we are talking about split second reactions, required 'out of the blue' then your glandular system can't help you there. What said system will do is up your heartrate, release fatty acids etc. *after* you have already swerved. As these effects are not required whilst sitting in your car, the reaction in this case is unnecessary and ultimately unhealthy.
Texticle, May 23 2007
  

       I once saw a documentary about a man that had injured his pituitary gland. The rest of his brain was still intact, but his chemical secretions were not working in the same way.   

       As a result, this man could not feel emotions. He soon after lost his job (as an ENGINEER!) made a string of terrible investments, and loaned a lot of money to a "friend" who he never saw again.   

       If you asked the man questions about right or wrong, he could tell you the answer. IF you asked him what to do in a life or death situation, he still knew what to do, but if presented with the same situation in real life, he would be mentally paralyzed. Why? you tell me. Rumor is that after a few years with this condition, they did some brain scans, and large sections of his brain had actually atrophied.   

       While the fight-or-flight response isn't as useful as it was, and has some serious drawbacks, I think we should study up on glands, and mental functioning quite a bit more before cutting things out that we might need.   

       How about a "fight-or-flight" suppressing shot/inhaler/pill/etc... so that once out quick thinking has gotten us out of immediate danger we can... Nah, then we might evolve people that were incapable of stopping the response voluntarily.
ye_river_xiv, May 23 2007
  

       Thanks glands.   

       Thlands.
theleopard, May 23 2007
  

       //Thanks glandular system, we owe you one.//   

       I liked that bit too.
zen_tom, May 23 2007
  

       Don't we already have pills that do this? If not, then what am I taking?
  

       Bun anyway, for the glandular system remark.
xrayTed, May 25 2007
  

       //Thanks glandular system, we owe you one.//   

       I owe mine a few, so I think I'll keep it intact.   

       //I also suspect that after a few generations of people doing this, humans would start to evolve without the fight-or-flight reflex naturally.//   

       You mean like how cutting off a rat's tail makes all its offspring have no tails?   

       That aside, the fight-or-flight response serves people well in sudden stressful situations, you may well get less people dying due to sitting around in an office all day ignoring deadlines, but when a house burns down will the victims escape? Will the fire brigade get there in time? Will anyone help?
fridge duck, May 25 2007
  

       I'd rather go ahead and get rid of the mental stress. The physical effects I can work off in the gym or by taking a walk. The mental stress is much harder to shake.
Noexit, May 25 2007
  

       //a gang of violent teens//   

       Am I the only one here who feels that, even *with* all glands pumping, I'd still come a poor second to a gang of violent teens, and I might be more likely to escape if I kept my cool?
pertinax, May 25 2007
  

       I don't watch "horror" type films largely because my F or F reflexes make me stew in my own juices, and there's nothing I can do to relieve it.   

       And in training my mustang, I had to convince him that either F or F were both futile, he would be assimiliated.
normzone, May 25 2007
  

       If you want to reduce the effects of your Fight or Flight mechanism, repeatedly put yourself in instant stress situations.   

       Go Skydiving, or Perform stand-up comedy, get in a fist fight with a friend. After enough of these experiences, when you nearly avoid a car accident, you don't feel a thing.   

       Or at least that's my experience... Yet I still freak out when someone comes after me with a water gun.
ColonelMuffins, May 26 2007
  

       As a follow-on to [ye_river_xiv], I've always had a rather low level of fight-or-flight as long as I can remember. As a teenager, walking down the street and passing a parked car from which a dog suddenly darted around and started barking, my response was to look down at the dog and say hello.   

       Several years later, I had pituitary surgery to remove a tiny benign tumor that was causing a lot of unpleasant effects (Cushing's Disease). Could this tumor also have interfered with fight-or-flight?   

       It's hard to say, since the surgery also removed a third of the pituitary gland, so if I still have an attenuated fight-or-flight response, it could now be due to having only two-thirds of a pituitary.   

       As a counterexample to [ye_river_xiv]'s story however, while I did lend a lot of money to a "friend" I also made a string of passably good investments.   

       Astoundingly, via medlineplus.gov I find that 15 - 20% of adults eventually develop some type of pituitary tumor. Perhaps evolution is already occurring to eliminate fight-or-flight. Or to encourage us to lend lots of money to "friends."
figmeant, May 28 2007
  

       The idea isn't to stop being human and responding to things. It's is to have more of a choice how you respond.   

       It true that we often, and chronically, stress ourselves by misinterpreting challenging situations as physically dangerous ones. But you don't want to give up your ability to deal with genuinely dangerous situations.   

       Martial-arts masters develop calmness, focus, mental self-discipline---so they can, when necessary, apply their skills and power most effectively. We're most effectively powerful when we can direct our power, rather than when our power directs us.   

       Rather than considering cutting out parts of your physiology, it makes more sense to practice:   

       _ Physical exercise, to develop strength and balance, and to dispel excess energy and tension   

       _ Meditation, to calm the mind and allow more realistic perception of what is dangerous and what isn't
Ander, May 28 2007
  

       Even though modelling the species (but cutting off or selecting for certain traits) might prove useful, I would stick to [Noexit]'s comment and // I'd rather go ahead and get rid of the mental stress.//   

       It is our social structure, particularly office-work structure we have failed to design properly. It must be interrupted now and then for a non-coffee break, so that a short walk would let us reduce accumulated stress.   

       Anyway, there are already lots of brain-tuning chemicals (caffein and caffein-like substances found in chocolate: theobromine; which are nervous system enhancers, and on the other side, central nervous system depressors, anxiety relievers, muscle-relaxing drugs, etc.). It is more likely that pharmaco-genetics changes things an acceptable deal than expect 500 years office-work to select against Fight-or-Flight response. That would take 500 million years (remember our common ancestor with birds and reptiles creeped out the shores about 400 million years ago).   

       I am a biologist, and I suffer non-physical stress everyday, hummm, and my neocortex still managed to tell me 'take it easy, you're not about to die from typing this academic annotation on a screen+keyboard interface'.
mayihave, May 29 2007
  
      
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