Defense Physiology


Defense Physiology

Defense physiology is a term used to refer to the symphony of body function (physiology) changes which occur in response to a stress or threat. When the body executes the “fight-or-flight" reaction or stress response, the nerve system initiates, coordinates and directs specific changes in how the body is functioning (physiology), preparing the body to deal with the threat. (See also General Adaptation Syndrome.)

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Definitions

; "stress" : As it pertains to the term "defense physiology", the term "stress" refers to a "perceived threat" to the continued functioning of the body / life according to its current state.

; "threat" : What constitutes a "threat" as it pertains to "defense physiology"? A "threat" may be consciously recognized or not. A physical event (a loud noise or car collision), a chemical or a biological agent which alters (or has the possibility to alter) body function (physiology) away from optimum or healthy functioning (or away from its current state of functioning) may be perceived as a "threat" (also called a stressor). Life circumstances, though posing no immediate physical danger, could be perceived as a threat. Anything that could change the continuing of the person’s life as they are currently experiencing it could be perceived as a "threat".

A Threat is a Threat ... Even When It’s Not (really a threat)

A "threat" may be either real (an outside observer may agree that the event or circumstance poses a "threat" or NOT real (an outside observer would not agree that the event or circumstance poses a "threat"). What is important to the individual, in terms of the body’s response, is that a "threat" is perceived. The perception of a "threat" may also trigger an associated ‘feeling of distress’. In his book “Biology of Belief”, Bruce Lipton, PhD, describes how a thought (the perception of a "threat") can trigger changes in body functioning and become physical.

It’s a Matter of Timing

Acute Stress Reaction - The body executes the “fight or flight” reaction to get the body out of danger quickly. When the timing between the "threat" and the resolution of the "threat" are close, the “fight-or-flight" reaction is executed, the "threat" is handled, and the body returns to its previous state (taking care of the business of life - digestion, relaxation, tissue repair etc.). The body is designed to stay in this mode for only a short time.

Chronic Stress State - When the timing between the "threat" and the resolution of the "threat" are more distant (the "threat" or the perception of "threat" is prolonged or other "threats" occur before the body has recovered), the “fight-or-flight" reaction continues and becomes the new ‘standard operating condition’ of the body, chronic Defense Physiology. Continuing in this mode produces significant negative effects (distress) in many aspects of body functioning (physical, mental and emotional distress).


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