My blogs on this subject will focus on educating you about the potential stress-related triggers to prejudice. I realize that intolerance and bullying cause an enormous amount of stress on its victims, but the literature on this subject is growing and significantly larger than writings on stress as a potential trigger for victimizing others.
I am a Clinical Psychologist with advanced training in the neurosciences so my focus will be on stress from a brain, body and behavior perspective. In future blogs, I will write about the fight-flight response and the brain’s tendency to overreact emotionally to perceived threat, as well as the issue of early learning and memory storage of emotional experiences.
First a caveat and disclosure: I realize that prejudice and intolerance are complex issues and don’t pretend to know the answer to these problems. Clearly, there are multiple causes that are being considered by other professionals such as Social Psychologist, Sociologists and specialists on racism. My intent – based on decades of work on stress and anxiety – is to fill in the gap of information on the mental, physical and behavioral sides of the intolerance of diversity.
In a way, we all have the capacity to be cautious, suspicious even paranoid about people who are different from us. It stems from a built-in, automatic brain system that keeps alert about potential dangers in our environment. I call it the “suspicious eye”. The early learning experiences from parents and significant others that teach us to overuse this “eye” can add fuel to the fire of this aversion to differences.
The knowledge of the effects of stress on prejudice may give us clues to the most important issue: How do we increase tolerance of diversity in our world. That’s my ultimate goal for writing this blog. For more information about stress and its profound effects on brain, body and behavior, you can visit my website at www.drparrino.com.