On the beauty of stress and embracing the amygdala

November 30, 2021


New articles:

The amygdala is a distraction: The amygdala doesn’t determine your fear response. You do. Don’t focus on calming the amygdala, focus on calming your response.

The amygdala has often appeared in studies of fear as a brain structure that is heavily involved in our fear response. This idea was popularised in science journalism as ‘amygdala hijack’—the idea that the amygdala ‘takes over’ from more rational parts of the brain when we’re scared or anxious. This is not how brains work. The amygdala simply helps us understand what things in the world are important by detecting their emotional significance and helping us remember them. It is an emotional intensity detector, not an emotional dictator. We can be more in control, not by focusing on the amygdala, but by focusing on how we respond to the world.

Full article at bottom of email

The beauty of stress: Stress is one of the most valuable pieces of biological technology we own. Don’t confuse ancient lion chases with email notifications. Our responses to modern stressors are just as well calibrated then as now. The difference is that some stressors we choose.

Modern stressors are often equated to being chased by lions on some ancient plain. Outdated, and poorly calibrated to modern life. This is egregiously untrue. Stress is the energising force that allows us to perform. Optimal performance is associated with optimal physical arousal. Our stress response is very well calibrated to the problems we face in modern day life. The problem occurs when the challenges we face cause more stress than is helpful to respond to them. This outcome is not the normal one, and we should learn the difference between normal, healthy stress and unhealthy, maladaptive stress. More poignantly, many modern stressors are stressors we choose. They are psychic predators, not real ones. Learning how to reappraise our modern stressors might be more valuable than concentrating on stress itself. Certainly more helpful than concentrating on the lions of the past.

Highlights from the Marginalia:

Romantic Friendship: “ there is nothing essential or inevitable about the ways we conceive of romantic relationships Romantic friendships take some of the elements of a traditional romantic relationship – the desire for intimacy, the commitment to build one’s life around another person, and even sex – without having to take all of them at once“

‘Land Acknowledgments’ Are Just Moral Exhibitionism: On the hollowness of ‘respectfully acknowledging the land…’: “It is difficult to exaggerate the superficiality of these statements … if [one is] going to acknowledge a debt, [one] should also pay it”

Digital Homes: On the possibilities for secure digital personhood.


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That’s all from me! Enjoy.

Warm regards,

Dorian | The Armchair Collective

This week’s article selection: The amygdala is a distraction

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