Friday, January 17, 2014
The moldy old notion that a little stress is good for you has shriveled and died under the bright light of science. No stress that is not a brief and appropriate response to a real need for action is ever good for anyone. Period. Science in the past decade has shown that conclusively. No argument. Stress underlies the chronic diseases that are overwhelming our health system and destroying the quality of middle and late life.
The anti-stress movement today is much like the anti-smoking movement of the 20th century. In 1964, the US Surgeon General's report that conclusively linked smoking with lung cancer and other diseases was issued. At that time, the majority of people smoked. Smoking was common in all public spaces, including college classrooms, restaurants and airplanes, not to mention hospitals and libraries. It was not only socially acceptable, but portrayed in movies as socially desirable and sophisticated. It took at least a generation for public opinion to catch up with the Surgeon General so that smoking gradually disappeared from public life and fewer and fewer people defended or took up the habit. In the first years, it felt like smoking...