Nov. 13, 2015
Imagine we were part of a village 50,000 years ago (or so). We all have our role and purpose, and are part of a connected group. Because there are people around, certain genes are expressed that stimulate the part of our immune system that will help prevent us getting a communicable disease. Makes sense. If we’re around a bunch of other humans, we’re more likely to get a viral infection, and our body specific cytokines to decrease our risk. Incidentally, this is the part of our immune system that may prevent cancer to some degree. On the other hand, our baseline inflammation is lowered.
Then our village gets attacked and we all scatter and flee into the woods, totally isolated from one another for weeks to months. We are less likely to get a communicable disease, so that part of our immune system calms down. We are however more likely to get a life-threatening wound and wouldn’t have anyone around to take care of us, feed us, or otherwise help us survive. Therefore our baseline inflammatory is higher than those found in a group. It’s almost as if our body is priming itself for a wound so that it can combat it and increase our chances of survival. Again, specific cytokines are released because of genes.
Despite how many people we have around us, including our families, how many people feel isolated and or lonely? How many people are inflamed today and more prone to infections because they don’t feel connected?
Living in the modern era we have more opportunities for connection than ever before. This interview with Dr. Bryan Walsh is a great example--recorded over the Internet using Skype. That kind of connection is not only possible but is very prevalent today on both personal and business levels. But the possibility and ease of surface connections doesn’t mean that meaningful, supportive connection is happening.
More and more people today are reporting that they are lonely, even though they are surrounded by people all day at their workplace, gym, shopping malls, and as they use mass transit. It’s that loneliness that is at issue here, and loneliness is contagious.
hedonic versus eudaimonic
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The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton
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