Lecture title -- The stressed ape: Why human beings are so prone to stress, and what to do about it.
Speaker: Dr Lee Hulbert-Williams, University of Chester
The basic stress response evolved many millions of years ago. The way humans get stressed is therefore similar, in many respects, to the ways cats, mice, and fleas get stressed. Since the evolution of the basic stress response, however, humans have evolved complex new ways of learning. These uniquely human abilities allow us to do mathematics and understand Shakespeare, but they also make it more likely that we will experience chronic stress. We human beings are inclined to get raised blood pressure and even perhaps stomach ulcers, just thinking about how we might pay the gas bill. Cats tend not to do this. Nor do the chimpanzees — our closest non-human relatives.
In this lecture, we will discuss the initial development of a new framework for understanding the human experience of stress, based on Contextual Behavioural Science. First, we will examine those features of the stress response that are common across the apes (including humans), then we will see how this response might be altered and co-opted through learning processes unique to human beings. Finally, we will ask what we can do to reduce stress. We will examine a range of techniques, both simple and more involved, which have been shown to reduce stress levels in human beings.