Richard Gipps

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Richard Gipps
Posted 7 months ago
What about animals?
Hi - I thought the question was a good question. Here is a possible answer to it. A. Human beings are, as Charles Taylor has it, 'self-interpreting animals'. This fundamentally changes their being or nature by comparison with animals, which are not. For humans, how we understand ourselves affects who and how we are. B. If a human construes their physiological alertness in a positive manner - as 'excitement', say - then this might affect their neurohormonal, autonomic reactivity etc profile in a good way. If however a human construes it as bad, then the psychoneuroimmunological responses will be extra bad. C. An animal can't self-interpret and so they just are lumbered with a default health-damaging response to prolonged stress. D. The real problem is surely with Kelly McGonigal's somewhat reductive definition of 'stress'. As I understand it, 'stress' started out life as a physiological concept when then became broadened by metaphorical extension to the psychological life it enjoys today. I would suggest that, in order for her argument to go through, she has to redefine it back into something like its old life - as a matter of physiological reactivity. But that isn't how we use the concept today. Since we are self-interpreting animals, what it means for us to be psychologically stressed is in part for us to take ourselves to be struggling. Does this help?