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Disability – the cost of modern life

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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 issues of lack of control. It shows itself in a physical way, but its roots are in stress that comes from not having enough control. Depression has the same connection.

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As the job world shrinks, millions are left out of society and so we see the disability grow.

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There are close to 10 million people on disability. There is no “cure” in a medical sense. For the root cause is within the psyche of the person. Medication for you back does not touch this.

The cure will be a different kind of economy. My first book – You Don’t Need a Job – describes what is going on and what I mean by a new kind of economy. I se a trend where many are now taking making a living into their own hands and are starting a life as networked artisans. But for many who are disabled and who will be, I fear for their future. For they have given up. How many million will be in this position in the next 10 years? The current cost to society is $240 billion a year.

Time to look at this and to start a conversation abut what we can do.

If you are in the 99% and have low control, this is how stress affects your health #freedom99%

More and more evidence is available that tells us that what we eat – an industrial diet – is a major cause of the chronic health epidemic. But what is less known is the affect of social inequality and so lack of control. With so much power concentrated in so few hands today, this issue of lack of control is a major driver of stress and so is a major driver of our health epidemic. On this site I have introduced you to the thesis behind Stress and to the 2 giants in the field, Robert Sapolsky and Sir Michael Marmot. Here is a stunning documentary that uses the power of video to tell the story of how all of this works.

This is part 1

Part 2 is here

Part 3 is here

Part 4 is here

Part 5 is here

Part 6 is here

Michael Rose is clear – we are designed to be healthy and to age well. So long as we abide by our evolved design and heritage. In the modern world most of us have lost control over all aspects of our life. We rely on people who we don’t know and who cannot care for us for food, shelter and energy. We rely on them for our income and for our health. The more we take back control of these areas of life, the more we reduce our stress and the more healthy we become.

One of the first areas that we can work on is how we eat and where then we get our food. If we choose to eat real food and we choose to eat food provided by local people, people we can know and people who do care, then this is a start for how we take more power back.

In my own case, this alone has transformed my own life and the effects of this choice has removed my worries about being ill and disabled as I get older. I have found at least control over my health – no small thing. It’s a start. I also re-allocate my spending from the 1% to the 99% who live near me. Mini farmers and food distributors get more income. More money stays in my community – we all benefit.

We don’t have to remain helpless.

More research on why your office is killing you!

Here is part of the post – see the link to Whitehall and to Marmot – for more see these links on this site

We spend a large percentage of our lives at the office, engaged in the drudgery of work. Although we obsess over the medical benefits of various leisure activities – should I do yoga? take long walks? not watch television? — the amount of time we might spend in downward facing dog pose pales in comparison to the amount of time we spend seated in our chair, staring at the computer screen, surrounded by co-workers.

A new study led by Arie Shirom at Tel Aviv University reveals the powerful impact of the workplace on longevity. The researchers tracked 820 adults for twenty years, starting with a routine health examination in 1988. The subjects worked in various professions, from finance to manufacturing to health care. They were interviewed repeatedly about conditions at their workplace, from the behavior of the boss to the niceness of their colleagues. Over the ensuing decades, their health was closely monitored, allowing the scientists to control for various medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, smoking and depression.

The first thing the researchers discovered is that office conditions matter. A lot. In particular, the risk of death seemed to be correlated with the perceived niceness of co-workers, as less friendly colleagues were associated with a higher risk of dying. (What’s troubling is that such workplaces seem incredibly common.) While this correlation might not be surprising – friendly people help reduce stress, and stress is deadly – the magnitude of the “friendly colleague effect” is a bit unsettling: people with little or no “peer social support” in the workplace were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study, especially if they began the study between the ages of 38 and 43. In contrast, the niceness of the boss had little impact on mortality.

What’s driving this effect? Why are caustic co-workers so unhealthy? One interesting factor influencing the correlation between peer social support and mortality was the perception of control. This makes sense: the only thing worse than an office full of assholes is an office full of assholes telling us what to do. Furthermore, this model of workplace stress being driven by the absence of control has plenty of empirical support. The most impressive support comes from the Whitehall study, an exhaustive longitudinal survey launched in 1967 that tracked some 28,000 British men and women working in central London. What makes the study so compelling is its uniformity. Every subject is a British civil servant, a cog in the vast governmental bureaucracy. They all have access to the same health care system, don’t have to worry about getting laid off, and spend most of their workdays shuffling papers.

The British civil service comes with one other feature that makes it ideal for studying the health effects of stress: It’s hierarchical, with a precise classification scheme for ranking employees. This hierarchy comes with dramatic health consequences. After tracking thousands of civil servants for decades, the Whitehall data revealed that between the ages of 40 and 64, workers at the bottom of the hierarchy had a mortality rate four times higher than that of people at the top. Even after accounting for genetic risks and behaviors like smoking and binge drinking, civil servants at the bottom of the pecking order still had nearly double the mortality rate.

Why were people in the lower ranks of Whitehall dying at a younger age? The Whitehall researchers, led by Michael Marmot, eventually concluded that the significant majority of health variation was caused by psychosocial factors, most notably stress. People of lower status in the Whitehall study experienced more negative stress, and this stress was deadly. (To take but one data point: Fully two-thirds of an individual’s risk of stroke was attributable to the person’s socioeconomic status.) However, the Whitehall results aren’t a straightforward analysis of stress, at least not as it’s usually defined. After all, people in leadership positions often describe their jobs as extremely stressful. They work longer hours and have more responsibilities than those at the bottom of the bureaucratic hierarchy. Consider the self-report of Nigel, a high-status administrator: “There were 2,000 people, and I was responsible for all the personnel aspects, contracts, and all the common services … It had every sort of challenge that you could ever wish to meet. A very active job and a lot of stress, but a very enjoyable job, and you got a tremendous amount of satisfaction from doing a good job.”

The traditional top down machine culture is now being seen as a major contributor to poor health. This raises the question os what to do. For me it means looking into how large organizations are run and looking more at a networked alternative.

Can we set up organizations that can do big things but also offer people in them more control. That will be the topic of the series I will start next week – The Network Work Organization a Healthy Alternative. And just so you don’t think I am mad – think of how WordPress, my blogging tool – is such an ecosystem with thousands of people who are not on the payroll making a good living by being part of an ecosystem.

PTSD – Love – Dog Bless You

As Frankl says – Love is the cure and nothing loves us like a dog
 
More here

Power & Control – Going Home to our Paleo Selves

 

Lack of power and control and low social status is a major factor in making us ill. So if we cannot change the system, how can we get more power, control and social status?

This week we will look at how we might do this.

These posts will all be about each of us as individuals. For the revolution starts with each one of us and not out there. On Monday we will look at the most extreme example – how Viktor Frankl kept his power in the death camps. For he could not change his world he could only control how he reacted to it.

“I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out (during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail); but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved. Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image, and that my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying. ‘Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death.‘” pp. 56-58.

We today are also confronted by a culture that can overwhelm us and is bad for us. It has taken us away for being human. For the centre of the Industrial Culture is “Work” and “Industry”. We ask each other – “What do you do? We tend to answer by giving our work role – “I’m an engineer” or “I work for Bell”. We almost never say “I like to garden” or I am a dad. The Question “How are you?” is usually answered with “I’m so busy!”

Work not life is what our culture is all about.

From our earliest years we are taught that paid work is the centre of life. We have to work hard at school so that we can get paid work. We have to focus at school – because we have to give the right answers to the set questions. If we do get paid work, we have to focus all the time. For it is focus on the expected results that is the way – isn’t it? We have to try and balance work and family and usually work wins. if we dont have good work and pay, we are also doomed as failures. So we cannot win.

Our industrial culture means that every other part of life than work and industry is secondary. By giving up the rest of ourselves and our world to this meme we have to get stressed because we know we are missing out on important parts of ourselves. We have next to no power or control.

So how do we get our power back?

Do we have to take to the streets? Maybe. But even then we have no power or control.

The irony is that power and control and social status does not come from outside but inside. Like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz – the way home is always in our control – all we have to do is to ask.

Here then is a simple tool that asks you the right questions – it’s a great start:

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

Stress – You are not a Zebra but a Primate

January 26, 2011 Stress/Cortisol, Videos 4 Comments
chimp_group

Worry about our social place in the world, what has happened to us in the past and what might happen in the future is a major factor in our health. Understanding this factor is going to be a major element in your health.
… Continue Reading

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  • 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.

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

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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:

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