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Stress Part II

by George Thomas, MD, PhD

All of us, by being civilized by our parents, our schools and society, become stressed and, usually neurotic. Freud in his "Civilization and Its Discontents" showed that in his opinion, the best we can be after being civilized is a well-adapted neurotic. Huck Finn put it more succinctly when he talked about how he would no longer be the same person after being civilized by soap and water and schooling. Karen Horney discussed the problem at greater length in "The Neurotic Personality in our Time".

I am not going to discuss Rousseau's "noble savage" or the French view of the importance of the school system in instructing its citizens how to think, or even McKinley's bloody, misguided attempt to "Christianize" the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. I guess for McKinley the Philippines' being instructed in Catholic catechism and being converted from paganism didn't count, since he was a Protestant. And that's where we learned the virtues of waterboarding in getting prisoners to talk, only to turn around and try judicially and execute those Japanese POW commandants who waterboarded American POW's .I'll only mention in passing Jacqueline Kennedy's deathbed comment that she wished she had "drunk more champagne", and observe that few if any humans on their death beds said that they wish they worked harder and did more things that they found emotionally distressing, rather than having more fun and more orgasms. (As an aside, I once had a girlfriend who felt that a night without an orgasm was a wasted night, but that is a different story, and from a different country.) (And no, the "wench" as Marlowe called her, is not dead.) At least we were never as brutally civilized towards a greater good for the greater end as were the Kulaks in Stalinist Russia, the Chinese peasants and intellectuals in the "Great Leap Forward", or anyone who wore glasses and might be an intellectual in the horrifying regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia. The Civil Wars in Africa defy anyone's explanation, except for the trite observation that there, God appears to be dead.

Let us note in passing that the rules in elementary school seem to be created by women for girls, with its emphasis on neatness, minimal direct confrontation, the importance of group behavior, and the superiority of means over ends (might does NOT make right, unless the teacher in bawling you out). On the other hand,in the business world and the army rules are made by men for men, where the ends justify the means, the only people you may not lie to are close friends, and fellow workers (military, medicine), your word (but not your valuation on the stocks you are selling) is your bond, and cheating is forbidden only at the poker table (but not on the golf course, where many unofficial Mulligans are taken). The same is true of all colleges, where internet-driven plagiarism seems to be the norm, but the lines of battle are not as clearly marked out.

In thirty years, I have found that the more you do that is emotionally conflicting, the angrier you get. Since women are not allowed to show anger directly, this gets converted into depression, or into anxiety or panic attacks when their subconscious is afraid that the anger will erupt in a socially unacceptable way. Men just grab the nearest M-16 or AK-47 and shoot up their workplace, so that if the flags fly at half-mast at the post office, it means they are hiring again.

But above all, this suppressed anger and depression transforms itself into bodily complaints. The pain threshold in every body organ gets lowered. It becomes an effort to get out of bed, you gain weight, stop exercising, drag yourself to work and back to home. Men nick themselves while shaving, women lose their appetite and sex drive, as do men, and both report (to me, when I ask) even a decrease of romantic/sexual dreams and masturbation. I will admit, however, that female masturbation has increased with good orgasmic results ever since the invention and sales of the Sybian.

Women are trained by society to never think of themselves first, and to feel guilty if they do. The majority cannot turn off their cellphones for one hour, in case an "emergency comes", and they must imagine that 911-EMT is not up to the job. If a daughter gets divorced, the father feels bad for the daughter and the mother feels guilty ("what did I do wrong?"). It isn't a coincidence that ever since the Greek habit of capturing barbarians to be slaves died out that Hinduism, Orthodox Judaism, Rigid (Calvinist) Protestantism, and all Orthodox Moslem priests believe that a woman should be subservient to man, a fact that carried over into Napoleonic Law, when married women were not allowed to own property on their own.

If you continue to do what you don't want to do emotionally, you will eventually crash as the brain runs out of the psychic energy it needs to control and repress those "socially unacceptable" thoughts of your anger that you have been reduced to emotional slavery, never doing what you really want to do, and always feeling that YOUR feelings, wants, needs and desires don't count and we become abjectly depressed, which we continues until we feel free again. And then people around you will ask why you changed, because they didn't. And the more "no's" you give, the happier you will be, and the more energy you will have.

I have observed that men hate to stay home sick and be absent from work, but if they do, they are resigned to being sick and allow their wives to baby them. But when working women feel sick, they almost all feel guilty about staying home, and unlike men, try to go back to work before they have fully recovered from their illness. This only adds to the stress of being ill. Working mothers have an additional problem, in that they have already probably used up all their sick days to stay home when one of their children was sick.

I leave you with three thoughts: (1) "No" is a complete sentence not only where sex is concerned, but in all phases and activities of life, whether you are going away for a college reunion or baby-sitting, and needs no explanation. (2) You are always right, so if the play bores you, leave at intermission and read a book; the play rarely gets better. (3) If you have an increase in psychic pain, or develop a new muscle spasm or headache or eye twitch or GI distress or - you truly are under pressure, and need to "get out of Dodge" as rapidly as possible. You can always say you have to go to church or synagogue right now - people may think that is odd, but no one will criticize you. Then you can sit in a pew in quiet, recompose your thoughts, and meditate on how important you really are.

About the Author George Thomas, M.D., Ph.D.

George Thomas has a Ph.D. in physics as well as M.D.

Dr. Thomas has written publications in both physics and medical journals, is a reviewer for both physics and medical journals, a member of science and medical honor societies, a former physics professor and then medical professor at a medical school. He has been on the editorial board for both physics and medical journals, been an encyclopedia author, worked on government-sponsored research and has acted as a contract reviewer for a number of years, as well as has performed volunteer work with a chronic disease group.

Dr. Thomas has been in private practice of family medicine for over 25 years. His practice is located in the New York City region.

Dr. George Thomas can be reached at ghthomas3@aol.com.

This blog is also published by George Thomas, M.D., Ph.D. (Physics) at http://ghthomas.blogspot.com/.

Dr. Thomas can be reached by e-mail at ghthomas3@aol.com, or by snail mail at P.O. Box 247, Hillsdale, N.Y., 12529

The concepts discussed here are based upon the author's personal professional experiences with patients, or upon his review of the pertinent medical and/or physics literature. Before acting on anything written here, you should discuss it with your personal physician as well as your personal physicist.

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