Thursday, June 11

Grievance Democracy and the plague of gastrointestinal illness

Did you know that 90 percent of serotonin aka the happiness hormone is made in the gut, not the brain? Neither did I until today. The reason this is important for us to know is that a new study has found 4 out 10 people worldwide suffer from chronic gastrointestinal disorders. Furthermore, another new study, conducted independently of the other one, has found in essence that happiness can protect the gut from serious infections. 

Of course medical doctors whose idea of healing is to prescribe whatever Big Pharma tells them to prescribe won't simply tell patients with chronic stomach problems to be happy. And you may trust the chronic complainers would tell the doctor they can't be happy. For such people and their physicians, Big Pharma's chemists will find a way to thread the camel. From the report about the second study:
The study’s authors want to continue their work on this subject, and are hopeful serotonin can be used as a legitimate treatment option for bacterial gut infections. As of now, there are very few available antibiotics that are effective against E. coli O157.
“Treating bacterial infections, especially in the gut, can be very difficult,” says study leader Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in a statement.
“If we could repurpose Prozac or other drugs in the same class, it could give us a new weapon to fight these challenging infections.”
Have you ever looked at the list of side effects for Prozac and other anti-depression drugs? And the first article I linked to mentions in passing that you don't want your body to make too much serotonin, which can lead to excessive nerve cell activity, which can lead to the opposite of the happiness hormone's effect -- depression.  

When medicine tries to hit a target using a pharmaceutical approach, overshooting for any length of time can often be as harmful as the ailment the approach is meant to cure. The same could easily apply if doctors try to micromanage their patients' serotonin production.

The other side of the story is that antibiotics have been so greatly overused that today many bacteria just laugh when antibiotics are thrown at them.  So, yes, it can be very difficult to treat a gut infection with antibiotics. From that angle, prescribing a treatment that doesn't depend on antibiotics could have a big upside, given the large number of people today who suffer from gastrointestinal ailments and don't want to hear the cure is to be happier.

Then what's the tiebreaker, if there is one?  

The human body isn't an idiot. It can surely recognize the difference between situations that are bound to make anyone unhappy and require action to address; in such circumstances it would make sense to produce a little less serotonin as a way to prod action. 

However, if unhappiness is a family trait, passed down from parents to children, the question is whether the body chronically under-supplies serotonin in that circumstance.  I'd say it's an important question because many children today have very limited behavior models in their family. Often in urbanized societies the nuclear family can be very small -- and here in the USA, at least, headed by only one parent.  

If a parent in the small nuclear family is chronically unhappy, that's the model the child will emulate. To make things harder for such children, Grievance Democracy is coming to dominate and even supplant liberal democracies. In a Grievance society, happiness is perforce frowned upon by the majority. If you're happy or balanced in your approach to life, you'd better find something to be chronically unhappy about if you want to fit in.

Put another way, the political mindset has taken over liberal democracies to such extent, entire societies are throwing  common sense out the window.

So is it even possible to be happy in a society that places a high value on unhappiness? 

That 6 out 10 people worldwide presently don't suffer from chronic gastrointestinal ailments suggests that common sense is not dead. We'll see what the statistic is, if Grievance Democracy makes more headway around the world. But the point is that the journey of a thousand miles doesn't start with telling people to be happy because many don't know what happiness is. It starts with making chronic complainers aware that they whine all the time. 


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