Subliminal Software

How Stress Controls the Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system - that part of the nervous system that works without conscious intervention - controls the body's essential organs: the heart, the blood vessels, and the other bodily functions including the intestines, the bladder, the lungs (these are also partially under voluntary control), the sweat glands and flushing.

Whenever humans are stressed, it is these organs and bodily systems that are alerted and prepared for the flight or fight response.

Modern life is unnatural. There is not a quick dash for cover and then either all is well or ancient man has become the tiger's breakfast. Modern man's stresses are constant: day after day, year after year. Husbands or wives are tricky, even difficult; colleagues are impossible; bank managers are lacking in understanding. The stress of the twenty-first century is never-ending, and this means that the autonomic nervous system is never off-duty. In a life that is perpetually stressed message after message reaches it, preparing it for the latter-day equivalents of flight or fight. This causes problems, because the body is not adapted to receive this ever-flowing series of commands.

As a result of withstanding a persistent barrage designed to prepare it for physical activity, the human body instead has to continue sitting in a chair, smiling blandly with no means of working off the chemicals that are now flowing around it. The only release for those who are subjected to such tensions is an occasional outburst of anger when the boss has left the room or wild, erratic, dangerous driving along the motorway. A continually alerted primitive survival mechanism that results in a highly sophisticated static response has given rise to the twenty-first-century epidemic of stress-related diseases, some physical, some psychological.