bessel van der kolk: heart stress hormones give us the energy to move forward03 May 2017
there is apparently such a thing as heart stress hormones. the only one i caught was adrenaline, but i assume there must be others. he may have mentioned them in the episode and i just missed them.
anyway, bessel implied that many people think these hormones are just generally bad. however, he takes a different stance and believes that they’re actually good and necessary, but can turn bad given a certain set of circumstances. this makes more sense with an example, so i’ll take adrenaline.
adrenaline is released when your body is in flight or fight mode, when you’re scared, etc. and one of the effects it has, among many, is huge bursts of energy. adrenaline gives us energy to keep going in hard times and to pay more attention to what’s going on so we can make good decisions in prolonged times of stress and chaos. adrenaline can keep you running from something that’s chasing you or it can help keep you awake when you’re exhausted but still need to be alert. obviously, in some situations, this extra energy is necessary for survival.
but there are times when that extra generated energy gets stifled. that’s when these heart stress hormones turn bad. for example, when you aren’t able to use it in productive ways, that energy generated ends up being funneled into aggression and towards each other instead of rebuilding our lives. for example, in new orleans after katrina and hurricane hugo in puerto rico, international aid organizations (like fema) told people they should stop working on their communities until they figured out exactly how much repair work they would be reimbursed for. this creates a catastrophic backup of energy (because of the hormones). and that energy, which could have been used to rebuild not only was squandered, but was often used counter-productively, or even destructively.
this connects to trauma in a collective trauma frame. how a community collectively deals with its energy after a traumatic event will have a huge impact on the future of that community.
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