From the Author
Realizing that it was impossible to make an "honest" living in science, I became a small business person, but not just any type of business. I have created and ran several brick and mortar and internet-based businesses over the last 10 years.
I was especially interested with internet-based businesses and the science of digital marketing as I could leverage my brains and analytical abilities to make a living.
However the true reason is that I could be portable and run my businesses outside of the United States. The reality was that I was deeply unhappy living in the States.
I have done much travelling in the US. I like to study the various regions and subcultures of this great country. What I saw was a lot of rough, stressed out and impoverished communities. The shiny, new futuristic look of the US is gone---it is replaced by ragged, worn out infrastructure, many homeless people, and questionable personal safety. People are under extreme stress.
We look worn out and sick. Many of us have become incapacitated from the various forms of stress exposure to our society.
I admit I was very negative, and for good reason. I had no connection with my culture. I did not shop for leisure, have a mortgage or car payment, credit card, or a smart phone. I did not buy into the propaganda of consumerism. I was a feral person from the Ozarks. It never left me.
So when I did emigrate and I re-experienced the so-called "developing" world, I was literally taken back to the time I was a child in the Ozarks.
I noticed that I did relate to the Ecuadorians, especially the working-class women who ran the farmers' markets and the indigenous in a way I did not relate to my own culture. I noticed when I first moved here that my social skills were rather poor. The Ecuadorians collectively taught me how to "grow up". How did they do this? Why did my former culture stunt my growth?
Ecuadorians as a whole have great "solidarity" as a culture. The have had a dizzying amount of presidents, constitutions, and banking holidays during the last 200 years, and so when the "system" would fail periodically, the culture moves in to fill the gaps automatically. There is very little homelessness, and in my experience of travelling "rough" here---that is, frequently off the beaten path---has been safer and more exhilarating than in my wildest dreams. People hitchhike all the time and think nothing of it. Frequently, there are grandmothers and children standing on the side of the freeway waiting for the next bus, taxi, or regular vehicle. They just do not tolerate shenanigans.
So they taught me how to be calm. They taught me how to regulate my fight-or-flight response. How to calm down, as it makes for a better cultural capital.
So before I get too off track, I still did not want to write the book. Honestly, I thought it was a bunch of BS. But it did still fester like a cancer, as I was still reading and synthesizing information and studies regarding human stress. 20 years of it.
Meanwhile, it seemed that my culture was getting sicker and sicker. There was all this talk about the physiology behind the human stress response, there was the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which painted horrific life long implications of exposure to extreme childhood stress. There was the explosion of "lifestyle" related diseases. And there were some brilliant thinkers in the topic of stress and adaptation, but after 19.5 years there seemed to not be any unifying theory of how organisms adapt.
However, for reasons I will not go into here, I decided address my bad attitude about this and go to the Amazon for some ayahuasca ceremonies. My cold heart started to open up. Like a nagging wife, the damn book just would not get out of my head. It made me sick to think about it. I started getting ideas that maybe I should give some small talks or maybe write a few articles.
I started realizing that I needed to write something. I realized though much reading of economics and political science that magnitude of stress-related "responses" we experience in the modernized world threaten to destabilize our communities---socially, politically, and economically. I could not just sit there.
The book just exploded out of me. As I said before, I really didn't want to write it. But like I baby in its 10th month of gestation, the nagging voice inside of me became intolerable and needed to be let out.
And it was like giving birth to a two-headed baby with razors for nails and teeth.
Somewhere around October 1st, 2015, a thousand words just poured out of me. Then another and another. I hired an editor who was a author out of England. I would have friends read initial drafts and tell me that they could not understand my wall of words. I would take it back to my editor for reworking. I would bring it back to my friends, and they still could not understand it.
As I was writing, I was reading hundreds of science papers on the most contemporary advances and thoughts on human stress and biology. I had to use hot packs on my face, as the eyestrain was unbearable. My mother had always been a heavy reader, and she messed up her eyes as well by over-reading. I love to read, but the review of the scientific literature on the topic of stress literally started to make my mind become undone.
Because there are relatively so few physiologists around (all of the enthusiasm in science went for molecular biology for 50 years), the understanding of the near magical workings of human physiology have all but almost disappeared. This is a shame, because understanding the human requires basic understanding of the physiology....especially in medically-related professions...is desperately needed.
So, in many ways, understanding of the deep, wacky, quantum mechanic-like mechanizations of the stress response sort has remained in stasis since Han Selye's (the father of modern medicine) ideas from the 1950s and earlier.
Yes there has been many 10s of thousands of studies conducted and papers written. But a "unifying framework" remained elusive. The textbooks were dense, but inadequate. Many heroic researchers added tremendously to this field. But the problem was, there was no contemporary definition for "stress"....
So here it is:
Stress is the rate of adjustment it takes for an organism (including its organs and cells) to adapt to a particular environment.
And this is accomplished by (usually) changing the shape of the body somehow to "fit" to the demands of the environment. Just thinking about the reality of all of this is very mentally unraveling.....
I had 10 major edits altogether. I would read my writing, and it was if someone else had wrote it. I had 3 designers and 4 professional book marketing consultants help me. I wanted this book to be democratic and readable for everyone. I wanted my readers to understand and learn.
Maybe it was Ecuador. Maybe it was the jungle medicine. Maybe it was just me. Watching people in my culture die needlessly and be impoverished by preventable stress always kind of stuck in my craw. Twenty years in the making. Twenty years of trying to formulate the words for a dynamic process that everybody needs to know about. This is basic info, like CPR or first aid.
Now that things are REALLY stressful (in this day and time of political and economic turbulence), we must determine how much of this is the cause of human beings just being worn out.
So I hope you understand the hard edge behind this book. And I hope you love it....
I am not a politically correct scientist, but I am an honest one.