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What about animals?

The talk of Kelly McGonigal implies that stress is only problematic when individuals classify it as bad. However, stress is also affecting animals, with stressed individuals living less long (e.g. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/279/1729/709.short). I have difficulties to conceive how animals could classify stress as bad and suffer from it (because of their limited cognitive abilities), but also how humans could not be sensitive to stress when animals are. Any ideas how to reconcile the two?


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    Sep 11 2013: You are right Christophe, animals do stress and miss Kelly presents the issue without differentiating between stress as a response to an actual situation and stress without obvious reason that has become chronically.

    Normal stress is followed by relaxation after the cause for it diminishes. This is a healthy condition because for the time necessary stress mobilizes energy to face any challenge by suspending bodily activities that use energy for nutrition and repair. If stress continues and relaxation becomes impossible this mode of the body continues also and will eventually produce all kinds of diseases and complaints.

    If the environment is the cause for stress and the animal can't adapt or change the circumstances stress will cause that animal or plant for that matter to wither away.
    • Sep 11 2013: Thanks Frans for your answer.

      It indeed seems important to make the distinction. From what I understand now, individuals can avoid harmful effects of normal stress by perceiving this type of stress as being good. However, chronic stress is dangerous and its effects on health cannot be avoided by beliefs about whether or not stress is good.

      This is why animals (and plants as you rightly pointed out) are also affected by chronic stress, be it physical or social.

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