This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

Social health ?

asked Mar 22, 2015 by -Alex
edited Mar 23, 2015 by -Alex
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3 Answers

I read his book Zebras and Ulcers and found it a little bit shallow. It goes into the endocrinology of chronic stress and he talks a lot about social status as it relates to baboon troops, which is his main area of research. I guess it's a five stars kind of book if you're an endocrinologist interested in baboons. I felt he tries to draw too many analogies to the general human condition from his relatively narrow expertise. He's not a generalist able to synthesize lessons of the human experience informed from art and classical literature like Peat.

I mean, Sapolsky goes on at length about work stress being about a boss beating up on a subordinate, as you might see in a business of monkeys. Anyone with real world white collar work experience knows that's not an especially useful narrative about why a job is stressful. We're just not monkeys or baboons. (Potentially touchy side note: I've noticed many intellectual jews are rather overly interested in social status/hierarchy as a general topic. Consider Marx as an example, or any number of New York Times columnists as minor examples. Sapolsky's research is obsessed with mammalian social hierarchy as it relates to stress, as if that were the critical aspect of human "stress".)

Anyway, I'm rather tipsy and spitballing but the point I want to make is that you want to draw lessons about how to live life from well educated generalists like Ray Peat, rather than specialists like Sapolsky.

Even with Peat I feel you need to understand his biases and take him with a huge grain of salt at times. If you read his work from the 60s and 70s he was rather clearly a communist sympathizer. You have to read that from between the lines but it's not exactly ambiguous. I've been thinking about writing up a post on this important point. I suspect the reason a lot of his prose is unnecessarily dense at times is a learned habit because he came of age in an era when communist sympathies were dangerous. I'm quite sure Ray Peat has a substantial FBI file. It might be available by now via FOIA. Related to his probable communism he has powerful prejudice against Western Christian philosophy, both Catholic and Protestant. His hand wavy dismissals of the underlying philosophies of western civilization can come across laughable, when he brings it up.
answered Mar 24, 2015 by 4a552f55cbb9
You seem like one of the few people who actually read Rays books and knows where he is coming from ^^
I haven't read Peat's books sadly, but I can tell he's basically a communist, or at least socialist. Probably the only communist in the world to openly endorse coca cola.
he seems like he knows his stuff.  fyi - on the subject of stress and nerve damage/physical trauma, it's worth looking into neurogenic tremoring.
answered Mar 22, 2015 by Nicholas
Interesting correlation between thyroid-cortisol- and depression.  20% of depressives are undiagnosed hypothyroids, and that is by today's modern hypothyroid standards.  Broda Barnes said he believed nearly ALL psychosomatic illness could be cured with thyroid, and had the data to back it up.  I am beginning to think everyone should be on thyroid meds, especially if they have elevated cortisol.
answered Mar 24, 2015 by Zach Shane
> everyone should be on thyroid meds

You conclude *most* people need continuous intake of drugs before you think there might be other more important factors?

You consider a typical "depressed" person, who lives a socially atomized existence, often spending nearly two waking hours a day commuting or whatever, and putting up with various such stressors for years on end, you look at this person and think thyroid pills are the fix?
Well, who's to say that the very same person doesn't have chronically elevated cortisol and is in a state of "learned helplessness?"  Perhaps, this person does not or cannot see a way out of this bad working situation.  Cortisol acts on the dopamine receptors and robs this person of all their ability to feel pleasure.  Why wouldn't lowering cortisol via thyroid be an alternative treatment?  Maybe taking thyroid will lower their cortisol, and they will start to enjoy their commute while listening to books on audio.  Maybe they will listen to Zebras have Ulcers.  

Broda Barnes treated over 5,000 patients with thyroid, and investigated over 70,000 autopsies in Graz Austria.  He was familiar with the work of Hans Selye regarding stress, and in his book Solved, the Riddle of Heart Attacks he theorizes that thyroid raised the ceiling of fatigue.  People who were written off by other doctors came to him desperate and he watched the all improve with treatment.  Pretty compelling arguments if you haven't already read his books.