[Paleopsych] when the body runs riot

Christian Rauh christian.rauh at uconn.edu
Sun Jul 3 14:39:34 UTC 2005

Robust and stable dynamic systems need control mechanisms for up and 
down regulation to avoid positive feedback loops that spiral out of the 
safety margins.


HowlBloom at aol.com wrote:
> The body has good reasons for giving us inflammations, or so we’ve been 
> told by evolutionary biology.  Inflammation can quarantine 
> micro-attackers and help heal our wounds.  But if the swollen redness of 
> inflammation is so useful, why does the body have built in mechanisms to 
> keep it under control?
> Those mechanisms are, according to the article below, 
> “epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs)”.  These acids keep a good thing from 
> happening.  They rein in inflammation.
> Could the answer be something that the work of paleopsych member Neil 
> Greenberg taught me a long time ago?  In moderate doses things the 
> body’s own internally-concocted remedies are good.  In overdoses they 
> can be poisons.  Stress hormones are examples.  In swift, sharp jolts, 
> they are pick-me-ups, attention, strength, and energy boosters extremely 
> useful in fast but vicious fights or when it’s time to turn tail and 
> skedaddle, escape.  But in chronic doses, doses that go on and on and on 
> and on from day to day and week to week, those same stress hormones, 
> those quick-hit tonics, are poisons.
> Does the body need inflammation inhibitors like epoxyeicosatrienoic 
> acids to make sure that it doesn’t get too much of a good thing?  Are 
> these inhibitors part of the same sort of checks and balances that 
> Sherringtonian nerves use when they are finely tuned by an excitatory 
> signals and a counterbalance of inhibitory signals?  Are they like the 
> extensor and tensor muscles, the upper bicep balanced against the muscle 
> that faces it on the underside, the muscle below your arm from your 
> shoulder to your elbow?  Snip the bottom muscle and your hand will fly 
> up to your shoulder and stay there, stuck in place by the unchecked 
> enthusiasm of the muscle on top.  Cut the top muscle, and your arm will 
> look like an unbending stick.  Your elbow and forearm will be 
> permanently locked in position.
> And are the acids that inhibit inflammation a bit like the part of the 
> brain that does the most to civilize us, the most to make us “human’—the 
> pre-frontal cortex?  You’d think that the human part of the brain would 
> be there to throw us into hyper-gear and turbocharge, giving us the 
> mental warp engines we need to break the consciousness barrier and 
> rocket into thought.  But, no.  The prefrontal cortex does the 
> opposite.  It’s a brake, a drag-chute, an inhibitor.  Without the 
> “human” part of the brain, that three pound lump of pink stuff in our 
> head would apparently do too much, not too little.  It takes restraint 
> to make us human.
> When Aristotle said that life is really a balancing act between 
> extremes, he may have gotten it far more right than he ever imagined.  
> Howard
> Retrieved July 3, 2005, from the World Wide Web
> http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050702/fob2.asp
> Running Interference: Fresh approach to fighting inflammation
> Nathan Seppa
> The more scientists learn about inflammation, the less they like it. 
> Although this bodily process speeds wound healing and corrals microbes, 
> it can also do plenty of harm, as seen in people with arthritis, asthma, 
> and a host of other ailments. Unfortunately, today's anti-inflammatory 
> drugs pose their own problems. They cause stomach distress in many 
> people, and some drugs seem to hike the risk of heart attacks. So, the 
> search for a safe inflammation fighter goes on.
> Bruce D. Hammock, a biochemist at the University of California, Davis, 
> and his colleagues now report that two experimental drugs shield lab 
> mice from extreme inflammation. The findings appear in an upcoming 
> Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
> Earlier research had suggested that a troublesome enzyme, called soluble 
> epoxide hydrolase, degrades natural inflammation inhibitors known as 
> epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs).
> ----------
> Howard Bloom
> Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces 
> of History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big 
> Bang to the 21st Century
> Recent Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York 
> University; Core Faculty Member, The Graduate Institute
> www.howardbloom.net
> www.bigbangtango.net
> Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: 
> Epic of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; 
> founder: The Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of 
> Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American 
> Psychological Society, Academy of Political Science, Human Behavior and 
> Evolution Society, International Society for Human Ethology; advisory 
> board member: Institute for Accelerating Change ; executive editor -- 
> New Paradigm book series.
> For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see: 
> www.paleopsych.org
> for two chapters from
> The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
> History, see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
> For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big 
> Bang to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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                        ~ I G N O R A N C E ~

              The trouble with ignorance is precisely that
              if a person lacks virtue and knowledge,
              he's perfectly satisfied with the way he is.
              If a person isn't aware of a lack,
              he can not desire the thing
              which he isn't aware of lacking.

              Symposium (204a), Plato

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