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If It Doesn’t Kill You, It Makes You Weaker.

Updated on June 26, 2020
Dr Billy Kidd profile image

Dr. Billy Kidd was a psychotherapist and researcher for 20 years. He has also studied history, religion, and has been active in politics.

There is a reason why soldiers get post-traumatic stress disorder.

There is a reason why people who are tortured act a little crazy.

There is a reason why chronic-stress makes you fat.

There is a reason why people simply give up.

Biological Set Points

The reason is: Things that cause great stress on your mind and body cause a re-wiring of your biological set points. What this means is that your body suffers from the wear and tear of stress. In response to stress, key biological regulators change the threshold for which they will respond. These regulators include heart rate, sugar and acid level in the blood, temperature, immune response to pathogens, rate of burning and storing fat and water, as well as many other things.

When the body and mind are over-taxed chronically, your biological regulators will not return to their normal positions when the stressor is taken off. This is called homeostatic imbalance. This puts you at risk of many diseases, especially cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes and CIDP. It also causes people to put on weight because the system that regulates their metabolism has changed.

Strong Willed People

Strong-willed, self-centered people generally reject this notion of homeostatic imbalance. They cite Nietzsche, who said: “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.” Nietzsche’s ubermensch—superman—was one who willed himself to power. So some folks believe that you can will your way through mile-high chronic stressors and achieve your goal without it having adverse affects.

Two Different Kinds of People

What some folks do not realize, however, is that we’re talking two different things here: a) the will to kick anyone out of your way who stops you from reaching the top and b) the psychological and physical scars that remain from kicking or being kicked. In later life, Nietzsche would have rejected the notion that you can overcome all your mental scars and become a stronger person. After all, he went mad at age 45. Whatever it was that hit him made him weaker.

This has implications for people who strive hard to achieve success. Find the easy, smart way to do things. Fourteen-hour work days won’t necessarily pay off because the stress of it can change your biological set points. The confusion this causes will force you to spend half your time simply fixing your mistakes. Also, don’t try to push things through simply with willpower when it would go smoother if you learned how to cooperate and assembled a team to do the work for you.

And lastly, if you think you’re the center of the universe and all-powerful, remember that power in itself can drive people crazy. So, be careful. Don’t get burnt out when you could be friendly and have fun doing whatever it is that you are striving to do.

Nietzsche's Uber Man

Funny how fate has it. Nietzsche popularized the Uber Man, the man that was above others. The strong man genetically, and hence physically and intellectually. The Uber Man has the will to tackle the powers that be and win. But fate would have it that Nietzsche would die in a mental hospital. So much for Uber Man.

Regardless, Hitler picked up on it and used it in his propaganda that Germans were natural born Uber Men. How well did that work for him? OK, until Hitler himself went crazy thinking, that as Uber Man, he could not loose any battle. So he shot the generals who disagreed with him and went to war against Russia. Russia put an end to this nonsense by slamming Hitler's forces.

So if you think you are Uber Man and think that it takes pain to make gain, beware.


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