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Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping

Robert Sapolsky is a neuroscientist and Professor of Biological Sciences, Neurology, Neurological Sciences, and Neurosurgery at Stanford University. He has been called “one of the finest natural history writers around” by The New York Times. His lab was among the first to document that stress can damage the neurons of the hippocampus. Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky’s acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.

“Our current patterns of disease would be unrecognizable to our great-grandparents or, for that matter, to most mammals. Put succinctly, we get different diseases and are likely to die in different ways from most of our ancestors (or from most humans currently living in the less privileged areas of this planet). Our nights are filled with worries about a different class of diseases; we are now living well enough and long enough to slowly fall apart.”

“Essentially, we humans live well enough and long enough, and are smart enough, to generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads. How many hippos worry about whether Social Security is going to last as long as they will, or what they are going to say on a first date?”

“The halls of academe are filling with a newly evolved species of scientist – the psychoneuroimmunologist—who makes a living studying the extraordinary fact that what goes on in your head can affect how well your immune system functions. Those two realms were once thought to be fairly separate – your immune system kills bacteria, makes antibodies, hunts for tumors; your brain makes you do the bunny hop, invents the wheel, has favorite TV shows. Yet the dogma of the separation of the immune and nervous systems has fallen by the wayside.”

“Those who cope with stress successfully tend to seek control in the face of present stressors but do not try to control things that have already come to pass. They do not try to control future events that are uncontrollable and do not try to fix things that are not broken or that are broken beyond repair.”