Friday, May 30, 2008


Environment, Hormones, Hierarchy, Groups, Stress

Hormones, blood pressure, psychology of humans and ethology of chimps and of other species

The idea that human females created human males as they need it may seem strange, but there might be something on that statement. The relation between hormones, body reaction and psychology is really strange. The decisive question is what comes first. Is it the hormones, the body or our psychology, our “soul”, our spirit?

In some instances it seems that the hormones are the first in this logical sequence of activities. Sometimes psychology seems to be the driving force and sometimes it is the body reaction that causes all the subsequent changes in the other two. So how should we perceive this?

Let’s mention one possible logical chain of subsequent activities concerning blood pressure in males and females correlated to their behavior and stress. This cannot be seen only at the present time but in the course of evolution of this system, that means I will also compare this specific human behavior with the behaviors demonstrated by other species as described by biologists.

One American professor had been studying chimps for 25 years in their natural habitats, watching them and measuring hormones in their blood and putting these numbers in relation to the observed behavior.

If two male chimps have a fight, be it for food or female, one must be the loser. Being a loser causes stress hormones to increase, and also a typically observed reaction after such a male-male fight is that the loser bites any female within his reach. This is a typical behavior of a loser in a system of a group hierarchy. The loser does not like the feel of being a loser and in order to get rid of this feeling he must put someone down below his level in the hierarchy. The safest way to do so is to attack somebody who is so much weaker than the loser that the outcome of the fight is secure. For a male it means to attack a female. Females are in general weaker than males. Sometimes if the male perceives himself as extra weak, he might as well attack children, these are to be viewed as even weaker than females. These two sparing partners, female and children give the utmost chance in prediction to win the fight and so to enable to establish the loser’s damaged feeling of his level of hierarchy.

This kind of stress is usually highly connected with high blood pressure. If somebody is during long times of evolution constantly the loser most probably she will develop systems how to overcome these constant insults. Because the stress is linked to high blood pressure and a constant high blood pressure is dangerous to life, females developed generally lower blood pressure so that they can withstand the insults of males. These insults cause their blood pressure to go higher and basically reach the normal level.

To measure only the blood pressure and stress hormones in males after fight is good but not enough. We must also examine the blood pressure and stress hormones of females who are attacked by the loser.

To tell the truth it is not only chimps who were studied but also many other animals, among them also humans. It is really enough to watch the behavior of males and females how they affect each other.

I will describe here a typical situation among human males and females. A man had any kind of fight at work, with his boss, with the customers, just with anybody and the result was, the things are not so as he wanted. He lost, he must o his stuff in a different way than he originally planned or thought. When he comes home he has a miserable mood and attacks his wife.

Super sportsmen when being asked what kind of feeling, emotion is more intense, stronger, the emotion of losing or the emotion of winning, answered, including tennis star John McEnroe, answered that losing is more intense emotion.

So it seems that the feel of one’s own position in the hierarchy of a group is extremely important, as well as the ability to predict. It would make no sense for a chimp that lost a fight to attack the same or even a stronger chimp again. The only reasonable action is to attack somebody who is highly probable to lose, a female or a child or absolutely obviously weaker male chimp.

It might be also possible that women who have learned to cope with the male’s attacks still have too low blood pressure and therefore need some alcohol.

So what have I described actually? What is first? Well, I believe it is difficult to answer. First is the feel of hierarchy. If this feeling is destroyed, and the position in hierarchy goes down, this feeling brings increased hormones in game and in turn increased hormones have bodily impact, and also a behavioral impact. So actually it is the informational environment that causes some feeling, some emotion and this in turn seems to be the trigger for further actions.

But the case is not so simple. What is an emotion, where does it come from, why are basically all animals including human species so much aware of their status, their level, their position in the hierarchy of their respective group? What triggers this emotion, and what triggers all emotions?

I believe that the answer is relatively simple and striking. It is just the way how repeated information gets stored in a chemical way, in DNA, as genes or as other information in ncDNA, or in epigenome.

It is not only humans or chimps who have fight, hierarchy, hormones and high or low blood pressure. It is basically own to all species, all biological species. Some scientists made experiments with sweet water crabs. They found out that males make fights and display their feelings by having their tail up or down. Tail up means a dominant crab and a tail down means submissive crab. Scientists gather them and then let them fight, but always a dominant crab with another dominant crab, both at the beginning having their tails up. Of course, one of them must win and one must lose. Several weeks later the crab that lost started to display a tail down, he became submissive. The exact same but opposite happened when the scientists let two submissive crabs have a fight. Again one of them must have won the other one must have lost this one fight. They both were submissive at the beginning, but several weeks after this fight the one that won started to display the tail up, he became dominant.

So, what guides all the species is the position in the hierarchy in the group they are living in.
Out of that must come the question why is hierarchy so important, why all species strive for higher position in the hierarchy in their respective group.

The answer might be relatively easy, to survive, the last one might be eaten up by any kind of predator. This emotion of wanting to “live” might be the most important of all. And an observed habit can be that all those who are the last are eaten up by a predator, as the last ones are sick, ill, or in another way disabled, and therefore an easy prey.

The ability to see and judge the environment, the danger, coped with the will to live, organized in chemical structures of DNA, where the information about the own body as well as about the environment and also the information about the proper reaction are coded and stored.

In order to really understand this system we must find all the function of all the chemicals and also how they work not only itself but also in groups. This might be a kind of heroic, step by step work for this or even maybe the next century too.

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