Society is Sick, Why Shouldn’t We Be? –
May/June 2019 – A study done two years ago showed the more episodes of racism an African American woman experiences, the greater her risk for asthma. You can’t explain that only in individual biological terms. And we’ve known for a long time that the more stressed parents are, the more likely their children are to have asthma. Interestingly, the common treatment for asthma is to give people stress hormones to open up the airways and reduce inflammation in the lungs. Stress hormones happen to be the most common prescription across all medicine.
Whether you have an inflammation of your nervous system, or connective tissue, or skin, or lungs, or joints, or intestines, you’re prescribed cortisol, which is the stress hormone. And yet we never ask ourselves in medicine, “Gee, we give you stress hormones for everything. Is it possible that stress may have something to do with this illness?”
It seems obvious, and yet we don’t ask ourselves these kinds of questions. And I think there’s a powerful reason for that: once we do, we’d have to see that stress is a social interaction. Stress has to do with conditions beyond people’s biology or individual psychology. And recognizing that would challenge how we see the world and how we run our society.
Gabor Maté, MD, is the author of the upcoming books The Myth of Normal: Illness and Health in an Insane Culture and Hello Again: A Fresh Start for Adult Children and Their Parents