- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 3rd edition (September 15, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805073698
- ISBN-13: 978-0805073690
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition Paperback – August 26, 2004
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"Robert M. Sapolsky is one of the best science writers of our time."―Oliver Sacks
For the first edition of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers:
Sapolsky succeeds in interpreting technical material in a way that leaves readers with an understanding of how the same physiological responses, so well suited for dealing with short-term physical emergencies, can turn into potential disasters when chronically provoked for psychological or other reasons....The author has a way with words and images....you'll find plenty to intrigue you. ―The Washington Post
Robert Sapolsky wittily dissects the anatomy of human stress-response. ―The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Robert M. Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museum of Kenya. He is the author of A Primate's Memoir and The Trouble with Testosterone, which was a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. A regular contributor to Discover and The Sciences, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, he lives in San Francisco.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sapolsky as always explains his topics very clearly and uses humor and good examples to illustrate important points. I particularly liked his analogy of two elephants on a teeter totter for the ways in which the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system can become imbalanced under chronic stress from being activated to frequently and where each is trying to compensate for the massive activation of the other in a vicious cycle.
Sapolosky also develops the implications of long term stress and explains the mechanisms involved in a lot of detail. He also explores how mechanisms that evolved to save our lives in actual life and death struggles can hurt us by being activated over things like traffic jams or missed deadlines.
An example that he uses in the book is that if you are a zebra with your guts dragging on the ground while you are being stocked by a predator, then maybe it's useful not to experience pain under stress. If you may not be alive in an hour, then shutting down long term building processes and depressing short term immunity makes sense as does a narrowing of the attention.
The author goes on to further explain in the example above that the real problem comes when the flight or fight response is triggered chronically and long term repair and important building projects like bolstering immunity are depressed for long periods of time. This example helped me to understand the logic of why our stress reactions work the way they do. The way I explained it was paraphrased from memory, but Sapolsky tells a story that makes sense and helps you to remember important points.
While I was reading this book, I could viscerally sense the kinds of things stress was doing to my body. The information and evidence presented here is very compelling. Sapolsky also looks at how stress is linked to cancer and other controversial topics. He sensitively explores all sides of the arguments and why direct causal links are so difficult to prove for things like cancer. On the other hand, he doesn't back off from looking at the implications of stress with respect to cancer or other difficult areas to research.
Sapolosky is not only a good scientist with excellent credentials, he is a very fine writer. I recommend this book without reservation to anyone who wants an in-depth knowledge of how stress affects the body.
Sapolsky's hard-hitting and entertaining book will inform you exactly why too much stress will make you sick. He lives half of his life in a neuroendocrine lab in Stanford, the other half camped out with stressed out baboons in Africa. He draws both on personal experience and solid research to lead you through a detailed understanding of how stress affects our bodies as well as our psyches. You'll get no mantras, no workbook exercises, and no easy step-by-step guides to follow. Nor does he fool around with feel good proclamations. What you will get is a lot of scientifically based facts based on solid research.
Sapolsky is a scientist, and comes to the subject with a scientist's critical eyes. He is also a brilliant and entertaining writer, who knows how to give his message a personal touch. You'll sit through page after page feeling as though he's talking just to you. (Did you know that Type A personality was first discovered by an upholsterer? Or that graves used to be robbed by medical schools to provide it with fresh bodies, and how this is connected to why SIDS was erroneously thought to be caused by abnormally large thyroids?) His scathing attack on Bernie "all-you-need-is-love" Siegel's "Love, Medicine and Miracles" in itself is worth the price of admission. Sapolsky is to stress science, neuroendocrinology and primatology what Springsteen is to rock-n-roll. If you ever get a chance to hear him lecture, camp out to buy your tickets well ahead of time.