Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reptiles in Literature: Stressed in Scottsdale, by Marcia Fine

Marcia Fine is a wonderful author who I recently met online. Her book, Stressed in Scottsdale’s title made it a must-read for me. It didn’t disappoint, either. Just one in a series (The Jean Rubin series); it examines reptilian behavior unintentionally, perhaps, in one of it’s meccas, the female mind. (the other mecca being, of course, the male mind).

Fear and suspicion originate in the reptilian brain, whether rational or irrational. It is for good reason, though. That brain is responsible for our survival as human beings. However, our brainstem can take this a bit too far. “Survival” can turn into obsession and paranoia, which also reside in this brain.

A prime example of this is main character, Jean. Jean has a whole list of stressors, too lengthy to list here. Not the least of which is her suspicion that her husband, Maury having an affair because he has taken a recent interest in the caloric content of kung pao chicken and heading off to the gym more. While this alone might not constitute an affair, his switch his from tightie whities to plaid boxers might be more cause for alarm.

In The Professional Communications Toolkit, author, D. Joel Whalen says,

       Time and time again, your brain stem makes you miserable. It gives you rotton feelings when you                                                                           should be feeling excited and powerful. It makes you stupid when you need to be intelligent. You become a klutz when you need grace and charm. Your brain stem can’t learn from its past mistakes. It continues on its consistent track record of failure, as it obsesses about things that will go wrong. Fear and anxiety are hard to ignore. Your brain thinks it’s protecting you. In reality, it may be harming you with pent up stress and preventing you from optimal performance.

I won’t spoil it for you as to whether Maurey is indeed having an affair. {You’ll have to read it for yourself). But as it turns out Jean discovers that she is addicted to stress, like a lot of us.  As she puts it,

“I am alone in a chasm of appointments, management, and problems.”

c. 2010

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