Charles Hugh Smith On The Phony "Economic Recovery," Stress and "Losing It"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The Phony "Economic Recovery," Stress and "Losing It"

Derealization leads to chronic stress, which then disrupts our ability to make rational decisions and follow plans.

We have all experienced the disorientation and "brain freeze" that stress triggers. It seems these symptoms of stress have become normalized in countries where the authorities keep promoting phony "economic recoveries." The disconnect between what the authorities are claiming and what people are actually experiencing is widening, and that leads to stress. No wonder more and more people are "losing it" in public as their neural circuitry melts down under the strain of synthesizing what they experience (austerity) and what they're told (official spin about the "recovery").

In Survival+ I call this process derealization as lived experience is derealized by official spin and propaganda.

Recent research is illuminating how stress disrupts the default hierarchy of the brain. In the absence of stress, the neocortex-rational-mind functions suppress the more primitive subconscious signals of aggression, hunger, sex drive, etc. in order to concentrate our effort to complete some planned activity.

Everyday Stress Can Shut Down the Brain's Chief Command Center. Neural circuits responsible for conscious self-control are highly vulnerable to even mild stress. When they shut down, primal impulses go unchecked and mental paralysis sets in. (Scientific American; subscription required, hopefully your local library has a copy)

This helps explain the natural "fight or flight" response we feel when suddenly confronted with danger or potential danger, but more importantly it illuminates how we lose the ability to analyze circumstances rationally when we are "stressed out." Once our rational analytic abilities are shut down, we are prone to making a series of ill-informed and rash decisions.

This has the potential to set up a destructive positive feedback loop: the more stressed out we become, the lower the quality of our decision-making, which then generates poor results that then stress us out even more, further degrading our already-impaired rational processes. This feedback loop quickly leads to "losing it completely."

Doesn't this describe our increasingly dysfunctional and disconnected-from-reality legislative process?

In pondering human development over the past 20,000 years of the transition from hunter-gatherer groups to modern life, it seems self-evident that stress was likely to be resolved in relatively short order in the hunter-gatherer lifestyle: everyone was known to everyone else, conflicts had to be resolved simply because the group survival depended on it, and most threats could be fended off with vigilance, weapons or left behind by a few hours of fast walking.

Contrast the environment that selected for this stress/conscious self-control feedback with modern life: in the modern urban life and work environment, stress is more or less constant and our ability to resolve stressful situations is limited.

This helps explain the increasing prevalence of people "losing it" in public when they encounter a rather typical frustration such as the inability to cash a check at a credit union. Just last week I saw a middle-aged man "lose it" at our local credit union, swearing and raging against employees who were simply following CU guidelines on check cashing. As the finances of many enterprises and households comes under further stress, then self-control degrades and people are more likely to "lose it."

Though this particular article focuses on short-term stress, there is growing body of evidence that chronic stress has a number of subtle and destructive consequences. In addition to the common-sense connection between chronic stress and hypertension, there is evidence that obesity is also related to stress-caused conditions such as inadequate sleep and chronic inflammation. This makes sense as the stress hormones erode the immune system's responsiveness.

Behaviorally, stress breaks down self-control, so it is no surprise that stress leads to bingeing, addictive behavior, impluse buying, etc.--all "knock-on" effects with negative consequences.

Chronic stress permanently degrades our ability to rationally analyze and plan, and so we act irrationally or erratically, as we are no longer able to stick to a conscious plan of coherent action. With the rational mind and self-control centers permanently suppressed, we are prone to "zombie" passivity, "sleepwalking" though life. This may help explain Americans' remarkable passivity as their civil liberties are taken away and their financial insecurity increases.

Many of the features of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are visible in "everyday Americans," and an understanding of how stress erodes rational thought and self-control helps explain why.

We have three ways to counter the destructive consequences of stress:

1) Develop positive physical and mental responses via discipline and practice (for example, yoga, martial arts, etc.)

2) Turn off the mainstream media

3) Stay focused on our plans. The simpler and more positive the plan, the more likely it is we can stay focused on it in stressful circumstances.

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the 300000000th percent's picture

I have a dream that one day, the mainstream media will be de legitimized for all the false propaganda they churn out. And that they will be exposed for the lap dogs of the establishment that they are. All the big networks like CNN,MSNBC,FOX,ABC and others are corporate owned and what has happened in America is big corporations are now fully in bed with the US Government and therefore are pushed by funding to report on what the US Government wants them to report on. We used to call that Fascism. This is the megaphone that has people believing in this false recovery.

SilverRhino's picture

That's already starting to happen. 

GetZeeGold's picture



Wudda ya mean it was just BS?


Divided States of America's picture

Funny, so you're saying that the Jews (owns the Media, Financials, Legal System and bought out most of Congress)are going to admit that they are doing all this for world domination? Ha, I will see it before I believe it.

The Big Ching-aso's picture



This article is phucking with my serenity.

DorseyCecil68669's picture

my friend's aunt makes $72/hr on the internet. She has been without work for six months but last month her payment was $19183 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here's the site to read more .....

Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

You got no friends and you know it.

Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

$72/hr x "a few hours does still not add up to $19183

Let me see a few   ...3 x $72 =216.....

Wow I think she got over paid.

But I am sure she is patriotic and will give the overpayment back.

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

What's worse is people hanging their hopes on the right wing talkers as though they're not corporate owned.

The Limerick King's picture



My life has become a delusion

An MSM web of confusion

I no longer feel

I know what is real

I'm comforted by the illusion...

CrimsonAvenger's picture

Damn but you're good. +1 from me.

ConfederateH's picture

Treyvan Martin and his gangta "No Limit N*gga" pals would call Ron Paul a "Right Wing Talker".

Kobe Beef's picture

Since Ron Paul isn't some illiterate gangsta rappa elevated to high culture by our psychotic societal mandarins, I doubt our poor dead Treyvon would've been the least aware of his existence. 

I could have missed Ron's "duhurduhda nigga, duhurduhurda trigga <UHHH!> googoola bitches, googola switches <UHHH! Like DAT!> speech.

But hey, I haven't been following the news lately.

Catullus's picture

I think that would require a level of shame that these people don't possess. The people reporting the news have the cognitive ability of a ham sandwich. A journalism degree seems the closest thing to a degree in sales as one an get at this point. In fact, every good salesman we have at my company was a journalism major. It's actually quite funny. They don't know shit about what they're selling, but they're selling it.

johngoes's picture

I'd say it's a marketing major, not sales. A salesman wants to take your money to get his commission. Marketing doesn't get money from you - they get theirs from their corporate hack masters. Marketing just wants to convince you the corporate coolaid is cool.

Ignatius's picture

"I also have a dream, but in it I'm not wearing any pants." -- A. Whitney Brown

Piranhanoia's picture

I guess it dates to Ted Turner selling CNN.  Before that, reality wasn't ignored as much.  There were investigative reporters everywhere.  We got bad news that sometimes helped to thwart the future impacts by causing awareness and allowing change.

Not any more.

Ruffcut's picture

Stress is all in the head.  Everyones biggest problem  is as big as the other person biggest problem.

For those who put themselves in huge debt, houses, cars and champaign dreams on beer budgets, created their own stressful clusterfuck. If you let your money manage you, instead of managing your money, then it is partially your fault. Stress needs to managed because it all falls on you.

Best ways to manage stress:

Learn your soul.

Rant by yourself, screaming at the MSM asshats.

Enjoy all the good things in your life.

Seek the truth for how you ended up here.

When all else fails, just say FUCK IT. and drink beer.

OldPhart's picture

Good advice, and I've mastered the last one.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


When all else fails, just say FUCK IT. and drink beer.

When all else fails, it's Jay Time!

...or you could always break out the bong:


Westcoastliberal's picture

You have seen the light, grasshopper.  What a shared vision!

CH1's picture

The great stress-avoidance: Drop out of the system and start living YOUR way.

The system is designed to bleed you dry at all turns. Reject it and start building something better. THAT is rewarding.

aerojet's picture

Exactly.  You can combat stress--turn off the fucking tv.  That's the first step to recovery. 

mtomato2's picture

I went on a news fast for seven days a couple of weeks ago.  Including Zero Hedge.  Best week I ever had.  I'm gonna try and do it regular.

Interesting paragraph I saw, thumbing through 1984 again the other day, and I can't seem to get it out of my head:


In the ramifications of party doctrine she had not the faintest interest.
Whenever he began to talk of the principles of Ingsoc, doublethink, the mutability
of the past, and the denial of objective reality, and to use Newspeak
words, she became bored and confused and said that she never paid any attention
to that kind of thing. One knew that it was all rubbish, so why let oneself
be worried by it? She knew when to cheer and when to boo, and that was all
one needed. If he persisted in talking of such subjects, she had a disconcerting
habit of falling asleep. She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Talking to her, he realized how easy it was to
present an appearance of orthodoxy while having no grasp whatever of what
orthodoxy meant. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most
successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept
the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the
enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested
in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they
remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed
did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will
pass undigested through the body of a bird.

Sorry..  I know it was long, but...  "Knew when to cheer, and when to boo..."  Who of us here on ZH doesn't already intrinsically know that right now?

Miss anthrope's picture




Miss anthrope's picture




e-recep's picture

yeah but how? by living in caves and hunting in the woods?

mayhem_korner's picture



Wait 'til the black market for SSRIs takes hold...

LouisDega's picture

Dr Leo Buscaglia Bitchezz

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

My brain's chief command center shut down due to stress a long time ago. Fortunately there's an App for that and my iPad is running my life now.

Wakanda's picture

I AM NOT LOSING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

km4's picture

Working 9 to 5 -- at 75

For millions of workers, retirement has been delayed for years; others say they may never retire. Thanks to the nation's massive asset meltdown -- sagging retirement accounts, plunging property values -- an enormous swath of the population has had to redefine their life path. Older folks who assumed they'd be retired by now are struggling with the need to work long after the passion (not to mention the brain and the body) has started to fade. And the result of all this turmoil is a little-noticed but profound shift in the workforce.

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

I've noticed a lot more little old ladies driving school buses. What could possibly go wrong?

Rainman's picture

Those darling little munchkins will make the old ladies into crazed JetBlue'll see

sabra1's picture

my friends grandmother's grandmother used to earn $50.00 a day driving a school bus. now she earns $2600.00 a month on the internet using her sex-cam!

ZeroPoint's picture

Did you run out of animal scat porn to fap to?

francis_sawyer's picture

 "Derealization leads to chronic stress, which then disrupts our ability to make rational decisions and follow plans"


I just buy myself a few ounces of gold & instantly feel better...

PacOps's picture

Check out this option ...

How Stress Affects the Brain 

Stress, pressure, fatigue, poor diet, alcohol, and drugs damage neural connections between the brain’s prefrontal cortex—or “CEO”—and the rest of the brain.

When you are overtired or under intense mental or physical stress, the brain bypasses its higher, more evolved, rational, frontal executive circuits—it starts using more primitive stimulus/ response pathways.

Consequently, you respond to daily demands without thinking; you make impulsive, shortsighted decisions.

When the brain’s CEO goes “offline,” strong emotions, such as fear and anger, take over, adversely coloring your view of the world.

How the Transcendental Meditation?technique Optimizes the Brain

The stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation® technique provides the experience of “restful alertness,” which increases blood flow to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, strengthening communication between the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain, and develops total brain functioning.

As a result, the TM® practitioner displays stronger executive functions, with more purposeful thinking and farsighted decision-making.

When the brain’s CEO is fully “online,” the emotional response to the world is more balanced and appropriate.

Better, healthier decisions result in reduced illness, improved overall health, and longer life.

Boxed Merlot's picture

As a result, the TM® practitioner displays stronger executive functions, with more purposeful thinking and farsighted decision-making...


Keep telling yourself that. 


It also helps to have a destination.


Alice in Wonderland: Alice-“What road should I take?”  Cheshire Cat- “That depends, where do you want to go?”  Alice-“I don’t know”.  Cat-“Then it doesn’t matter”.

SheepDog-One's picture

Best 'stress reliever' for good brain 'CEO' health? Choking the shit out of a CEO.

PaperBear's picture
COINTELPRO googles as always.


3-28-12 David Wilcock Interview of Drake, “an Insider specifically asked by the Pentagon ‘good guys’ to come forward”

Part 2b opens with the notion that there were, during the Vietnam War, continuous attempts to instigate copies of the My Lai massacre of innocent civilians that would see the enlisted men refuse the order followed by the rescinding of the order.

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Yoga works for many to relieve stress but it can also fuck you up bigtime:

gaoptimize's picture

"In the absence of stress, the neocortex-rational-mind functions suppress the more primitive subconscious signals of aggression, hunger, sex drive, etc."

Bullish bunga bunga!.... in the Italian leadership context.

Carpathia's picture

I'm 64 and have lived through a number of recesssions.  I'm a zerohedger and so believe that a major collapse is coming.  But the bottom line is that you have to take individual control of your own life.  You have to find work that is both meaningful and renumerative.  Waiting for the system to save you is a fool's errand.  Of course there is a social construction to our lives.  But it's up to each of us to construct a meaningful life.  Tune out all of the made up fantasy bullshit.  It can be done. 

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

I'm pretty close to your age and I need help with finding meaningful and renumerative work. Being a lifeguard in a car wash just isn't cutting it for me.