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Stress and the brain

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  • Stress and the brain

    Hey there docs, I just had a question regarding stress and how it relates to the brain. I know you guys have talked a lot before about stressful physical activities can be difficult albeit not useful, i.e. wanting to run a marathon but doing advanced bodybuilding programs every week. My question, though, is related to how certain events may be psychologically stressful, yet not useful. For example, if someone has anxiety or fear over a specific event, yet they are exposed to something else that may be very frightening, but not quite the same situation, would it help them overcome their fear of the first situation? Or do humans also exhibit a similar mechanism in the repeated bout effect?


    Also, is there any merit to using similar characteristics from training such as specificity and increased stress over time, as well as having a long term-perspective that could help someone in dealing with someone if they want to improve their mental and emotional skills in dealing with certain situations? I know you guys aren’t psychologists or anything, but I would be interested to see what you have to say because I’ve thought about it a lot and these two areas of humanity seem pretty similar in how they adapt and change over time.

  • #2
    There is likely a degree of specificity at play here (a la repeated bout effect), such that I would not expect a radically different situation to affect one's response to the first.

    Re: #2) Yes, absolutely. These are basic concepts in the world of exposure therapy.
    IG / YT

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    • #3
      I think the concept of operant conditioning (part of the work of BF Skinner) can also be useful here, where, psychological and physiological responses that occurred during the original stimulus can transfer to benign stimuli that are part of everyday life, disrupting everyday life. Generally, exposure therapy should be aimed as the secondary responses to the benign stimuli not the original traumatising event. Over time the spill over into everyday life diminishes, and people can “go on living their lives” (as Austin says). Weightlifting as described by Barbell Medicine is a benign stimulus (when dosed appropriately) so exposure therapy is going to be excellent in this context.

      Exposure therapy is great but there is a temptation sometimes to “expose” yourself to more and more dangerous situations to try and “overcome the fear”. This can lead people to make quite high risk decisions that cause a lot of problems. It is a very common response to trauma and it can lead to many difficult problems including, drug addiction, sex addiction, speeding, gambling addiction etc.

      If you can’t tell whether the “specific event” is benign or not, please ask someone for help. Exposure therapy is not the only way to recover from anxiety/fear of a specific event. It should only be used on benign stimuli in controlled contexts.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Michelle1 View Post
        I think the concept of operant conditioning (part of the work of BF Skinner) can also be useful here, where, psychological and physiological responses that occurred during the original stimulus can transfer to benign stimuli that are part of everyday life, disrupting everyday life. Generally, exposure therapy should be aimed as the secondary responses to the benign stimuli not the original traumatising event. Over time the spill over into everyday life diminishes, and people can “go on living their lives” (as Austin says). Weightlifting as described by Barbell Medicine is a benign stimulus (when dosed appropriately) so exposure therapy is going to be excellent in this context.

        Exposure therapy is great but there is a temptation sometimes to “expose” yourself to more and more dangerous situations to try and “overcome the fear”. This can lead people to make quite high risk decisions that cause a lot of problems. It is a very common response to trauma and it can lead to many difficult problems including, drug addiction, sex addiction, speeding, gambling addiction etc.

        If you can’t tell whether the “specific event” is benign or not, please ask someone for help. Exposure therapy is not the only way to recover from anxiety/fear of a specific event. It should only be used on benign stimuli in controlled contexts.
        Thank you for your contribution here!
        IG / YT

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