Home » Social Status » Recent Articles:

Your Social Status and your Health – Why our industrial culture is killing us

America spends far more than any other nation in the world on healthcare and yet has the health outcomes of a nation like Cuba. What is going on?

Why might this be?

If you live in Louisiana you are much more likely to be ill and die young than if you live in one of the poorest states in the union Vermont. Why is this?

The quick answer is that Some nations and some states have a better social environment than others and it is this factor that has such an influence on our health.

What is “better”? Better is a better fit with the social environment that we evolved to thrive in for millions of years before agriculture.

In Vermont there is much more Social Capital than say in Louisiana. There is much stronger community. There is a smaller gap between rich and poor. (Robert Putnam is the key researcher into this field of how Social Capital affects many outcomes – crime – learning are also affected by the relative amount of social capital. And this by the overall culture. LA has a very traditional authoritarian culture of the Big Man and the dependents – Vermont is much more Yankee with strong feelings of community of mutual help and self sufficiency. So even though Vermont is poor, there is a much greater feeling of being in control and valued. Vermont could make it without the Union, Louisiana could not.

The social culture is the key. We do less well in social cultures that are top down and authoritarian than we do in cultures that fit more closely our tribal heritage of a community model. We need to have a voice and we need to be known and valued. We need to have a real role. When we have none of these factors we live in a culture that does not fit and we get ill.

Social Status is a factor in states as well. Look at the death rates in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. What happened? What happened was that the fall in National Status affected men who also felt their own status in the world fall. We see the opposite in countries like Poland whose felt that their control and status improved when they became free.

See where we are going? So let’s look at the mechanism.

This slide shows this issue of status and control more clearly. (From the Whitehall Study - here is a link that will take you deep into the issues and the work ) still going on under the supervision of DR Michael Marmot. It shows deaths in the UK civil service from Heart Disease ranked by rank in the organization. The folks on the left labeled “Administrative” are the seniors executives – the A Personality Types. Those on the far right are the folks at the bottom of the pile. (More here)

Those at the bottom have a 4 times greater chance of dying early than the hard driving folks on the left. But their conventional risk factors are not 4 times worse. What is going on that makes them so much less healthy?

The answer is that this group have the least amount of control and the least amount of status. This drives a constant stress load. This is in turn releases the hormone Cortisol into the body – the hormone that enables you to shut down all your systems not needed to out run the lion. You want cortisol in a real crisis. But not as a constant. As a contant, Cortisol attacks your body and your immune system.

Here is Dr Robert Saplosky explaining this in summary and here he is explaining this in depth.

So just as the modern world has pulled us away from our ideal diet, so it pulls us away from our ideal social setting. Just as the industrial diet now is everywhere, so the industrial culture is too.

As a result, the gap between the haves and the have nots is more extreme than ever. Even well off functionaries in the system serve at the pleasure of the big man. Nearly all of us have lost control and status. This widening gap will have a huge impact on health in America.

We depend on the system for everything and most of us have no idea of what it may be like to be self sufficient. For true esteem comes not from freely given praise but from earned respect.

So I think that the way home to a culture that fits us best and that will give us our best health is not to be found in overthrowing the system. It comes from remembering the successful strategies of those that over threw the great powers such as Gandhi in India and Havel in the Czech Republic. They won by creating a better alternative to the super power.

Freedom, real status and real control is something that we earn for ourselves. It is in our own power to find. That is why in later posts we will look at how we can do this in our own work.

But next, we have to look at the central social organization that we all rely on and that shapes us all. We will look at the Family and find out that it too has exactly the same dynamics and forces as the state and the nation.

Here is a short introductory video … Continue Reading

The importance of your social world to your health #1 The Context

grooming-chimps

Michael Rose is clear – the closer we are to our evolved environment, the healthier we will be. We have explored our diet and our activity. Now it is time to investigate our social environment.

We are primates and intensely social. Our place in our social world has a major impact on our health. People who have little control and status have 4 x more chance of dying early of Heart Disease than those with high control and high status. Why is this? And what can we do to improve our chances? Source: The Whitehall Study

This post is the first of a series that will explore this part of working to find the best fit possible to our evolved social design.

We will look at first at the work of Sir Michael Marmot who is the world’s leading expert in the field of social status and health. We will see that there are steep gradients of health based on status both between nations and inside nations and even inside organizations. These gradients are all a function of our reaction to how we see ourselves – do we have power and control and status or not.

We will then look at the work of Dr Robert Sapolsky who is the world’s leading expert on stress in primates. Here we can see the mechanism that converts poor feelings of self worth and roles and status directly into damage to our immune system. Just as Insulin is the key to diet, Cortisol is the key here. In prey animals such as a Zebra, they only stress and produce Cortisol, when the Lion is hunting. But social animals like baboons worry all the time about their place in the troop. For humans this worry can be worse. For we can use our conscious mind to worry abut things that happened in the past and that might happen in the future. We can have large amounts of cortisol in our system all the time.

We will then look at the work of Dr Doug Willms who has been looking at the impact of family culture on infants. For many kids today are raised in a social environment that is not warm and supportive. By 2, their world view of who they are and what the world is like is set. They are in effect wired. Resilient kids can cope with anything. Kids who are not cannot. Cortisol is again the marker. In summary very authoritarian and instrumental parents tend to shut their kids down. Very permissive parents tend to make their kids feel unsafe.  Kids do best when they are heard and when the boundaries are clear.

This then leads to how this is expressed in the workplace. Here Dr’s  David Brown and Andrew Clark have done breakthrough work on the Managerial Hierarchy. What Willms found in the family culture applies to the workplace too.

With this explained more completely as context, I will explore with you how best to take this matter into your own hands. We cannot change how the world works today on our own, but as with diet, we can chose to act differently in it and we may be forced to do that anyway. Here are some hints about where we might go with this:

  • Millions of us now are Freelancers – some by choice many not. Is this a bad thing? Or is it really the future and is this a return to being who are are designed to be a Hunter Gatherer? What is it about this life and its social aspect that is close to our evolved past – Tribal patterns etc
  • Millions of us are Boomers with maybe 20 – 40 years of life ahead and no financial security. Can we continue to live as separate beings or will we have to find a new social world to help us through? If we cannot live with our blood family what tribes can we form?
  • Can we repair the damage done to us in our earlier lives? Can find find more resilience by changing some key habits and responses? We will look at Neuro Plasticity and how this insight can help us rewire our minds and get power over our traditional responses.
  • We will look at the powerful and positive forces found in social networks – where we can find our place, a role, love and reputation. Where we can give as well as receive.
  • We can look at the food system itself. For I think that it is our relationship to food that is what controls our culture. Can we make a shift from a view of us dominating nature to one where we work with nature?

Contact Form

Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Facebook

Comments

  • matt: isn't the "sugar" in soda high fructose corn syrup? why do y...
  • Caroline Cooper: Hi Rob, Nice to see you're writing again. I have been thi...
  • Patrick Meadows: People, can and have lived solely on meat. Eskimos go months...
  • ike: Maybe you veggies need to eat meat so your brains can develo...
  • robpatrob: Of course - but we are talking much more recently here about...
  • Rob: "I come from Northern European stock. My genes are the most ...
  • Gemma: Don't forget regular exercise! Prevention is better than cur...
  • Daniel: Nothing can live on just meat. Carnivores such as cats and s...
  • robert: Your retarded, so why is it most vegans need pills as vitami...
  • Dario McNut: It is true that erectile dysfunction can be associated with ...
  • robpatrob: Google Richard Wrangham - His book is on Amazon - much more ...
  • A Question: Thanks for this video! Half of the urban women who had a raw...
  • robpatrob: Great questions - thanks. Just as 300 years ago a few misfi...
  • Garfield: I really like the parallels too...I live like this also. Twe...
  • nj: Rob, check out the chart here for a broader perspective on a...

What is the Missing Human Manual All About?

Do you want to age well? Most of us do. If you are my age, 60, this is more important a question that if you are 30. But most of us would not wish to have heart disease, cancer, dementia when we get old.

Most of us think it is normal that we will get ill like this.

But science today tells us that this is not "Normal". Our evolutionary past designed us to be active and fit until we drop dead. Why? Because raising human children takes so long. Mature adults had to do most of the hard work enable us to invest up to 25 years in our kids.

We are designed by our evolution to reach a plateau of fitness in mid life. So why do most of us not live like this?

We don't because, we have strayed away from the best way of living that fits our evolution best. Our culture has got too far ahead of our biology. We eat foods that make us ill. We have lost our social identity and power and that makes us ill. And we have lost touch with the circadian rhythms of the Natural World, and that has made us ill too.

We have lost our fit with our true nature.

This site will be a Manual. It will show you what the best fit is. It will show you the science behind this. It will share with you some methods for getting your fit back with your true human nature.

So welcome to the "Missing Human Manual" . I hope that we can help you and I hope that you can help others as a result.

Featured Posts

Disability – the cost of modern life

  This chart shows the shift in the nature of disability in America since the early 1960’s. What is hows is that the stress of how we live is crushing millions of people. The images in this post come from an excellent article here. Back pain is strongly linked to …

Your baby’s gut health – the platform for good or poor lifetime health – what to know and to do about this

It is clear now that a child’s gut flora drives many allergies – including eczema – Here is a short and illuminating article on this that joins the growing literature on the importance of gut health generally and how, in infants, gut health drives lifetime health. This is yet one …

Your Waistline – The key measurement for predicting Heart Disease

A fat tummy is a sign of visceral fat which is the #1 predictor of heart disease. We have posted about this before here. But here are some charts that help us see the range. It’s not just men either. More here on Mercola’s site:

%d bloggers like this: