The work of Dr. Selye, who published more than 1,000 scientific papers during his career, ushered in a new era of recognition of the harmful effects of stress on humans, and his work catalyzed numerous other researchers to investigate and reflect on stress.
Another important researcher examining stress has been Dr. Esther Sternberg who has used more sophisticated science to link the bio-pathology between emotions and disease.
In her book, 'The Balance Within, The Science Connecting Health and Emotions' (Times Books, 2001), Dr. Sternberg writes:
"As soon as the stressful event occurs, it triggers the release of the cascade of hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal hormones — the brain’s stress response. It also triggers the adrenal glands to release epinephrine, or adrenaline, and the sympathetic nerves to squirt out the adrenaline-like chemical norepinephrine all over the body: nerves that wire the heart, and gut, and skin. So, the heart is driven to beat faster, the fine hairs of your skin stand up, you sweat, or you may feel nausea."
Dr. Sternberg warns that if high levels of stress are prolonged the continual flood of stress-related hormones leads to weakened immune defenses. As well, severe or chronic stress events can catalyze the formation of neurological memories that can repeatedly be triggered by stimuli that bear resemblance to the original stimuli - a sound, a gesture, an image - produce the accompanying physiological responses of the original stress.Dr. Sternberg also wrote that triggering stress in this way can produce PTSD-like symptoms that can impair emotional and physiological health in the short and long term.
From this and other research it is a logical inference that young children whose neuro-physiology is incompletely developed but are nonetheless exposed to violent TV and radio news events are as or more vulnerable than adults to forming debilitating neural pathways arising from stress-inducing news events.
Please sign the Choose News petition and help pressure Canadian news producers to update and better follow their Violence Code to reduce this risk to our children.
(Image below from NeuroComic by Hana Ros)