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“Stress” Video and “A Natural Fix for ADHD” Article Essay

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Updated: Aug 17th, 2020


The notion of stress is relatively new in contemporary medicine and in the common knowledge of modern life. The concept was discovered in the late 19th century by Dr. Cannon. He observed that such feelings as pain, terror, and anger that the human brain associates with near-death experiences put a stop to some bodily processes that are simply not needed in the situation (Bickerstaff 7). Instead, stress provokes a bodily response that consists of hormone outbreak and pounding energy; such a reaction was designed to protect an organism from danger. Constant stress is believed to be certain death in the long run (Krantz, Thorn, and Kiecolt-Glase par. 2, 8).

Other researchers, however, stick to the opinion that the toxicity of stress is exaggerated. They assert that it is the belief that stress is harmful that makes it really harmful (McGonigall 1-3). On the whole, practically every study ends up in overgeneralized remarks on how humanity has stepped onto the path of no return: the cities are too big, the people are too plenty, the competition is too stark, and the food is too rich in saturated fats and glucose. There certainly are some deeper reasons for people to get stressed, and the video documentary “Stress: Portrait of a Killer” and the article “A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.” by Dr. Richard A. Friedman try to define them.


As the title implies, the video documentary “Stress: Portrait of a Killer” treats the matter very seriously. The video describes stress as a continuous process of pressure in all parts of life: stress at work, the stress in dealing with personal problems, etc. As a humble argument in favor of stress, it is said that an occasional outbreak of adrenaline does much good to the human body. To the majority of the working class, however, stress is routine. The video also features a Stanford University neurobiologist Robert Sapolski who asserts that stress is natural since, originally, it is a living organism’s way to protect itself. Professor Sapolski’s controlling groups of baboons are stressed because of themselves: they fight to dominate and get more food and mates. The researcher draws a parallel between the baboons’ behavior and ours. Thus, it becomes clear that one of the reasons for humans to get stressed is the struggle for control. Still, it is not the other humans and their mates that humans crave to control. Nowadays, one considers it more important to be able to control one’s own choices, decisions, future, and life in general (“Stress: Portrait of a Killer”).

The article “A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.” informs the reader about people for whom routine is stress. Such people find life unamusing and always seek new experiences. They suffer from a lack of concentration and patience. Their search for something new often leaves them dissatisfied, and they end up taking medications (Friedman par. 1-5). However, those who have found an occupation that interests them, tend to lose the symptoms of A.D.H.D. and have a “laser-like focus” (Friedman par. 5). To define the root reasons for such behavior, Dr. Friedman refers to the past of humanity, when people made a living by hunting and gathering. In those conditions having a short attention span was an advantage (Friedman par. 14-15).

Taken separately, the documentary and the article treat the subject of stress differently. From the documentary, the viewer sees that, for the majority of people, stress is routine, while the article asserts that, for others, the routine is stress. However, there are several very important common points. Firstly, both sources dwell upon good stress. Some researchers believe that stress boosts the activity of serotonin, the hormone of happiness (Lowry 13-14). Indeed, it seems that the joy of danger is familiar to more people than those suffering from A.D.H.D. It is mentioned in the video that, while experiencing good stress, people are happy as long as they can control the conditions of their experience. But even if it is totally safe, the feeling of danger lingers on, as on a roller-coaster ride; this is what makes the experience so special.

People with A.D.H.D. also tend to go into dangerous experiences because it gives a spice to their otherwise boring lives. What is more important, going on an adventure they are able to decide for themselves. This drives us to the second common point: both sources admit that stress (the bad one) can be eradicated when a stressed person is given the ability to control his/her decisions. Dr. Friedman states that people who are able to make their own decisions do not suffer from lack of concentration since for these people every day brings something new. Such people, he claims, can cure themselves and get rid of the stress. This idea is supported by Professor Sapolski’s research on baboons: we can see in the video that baboons tend to leave their native groups and join other groups where they learn to function in new conditions.

It shows that people are free to choose the environment that suits them best and that they are able to cure their stress this way. Consequently, there is another key idea proclaimed by both sources: self-fulfillment. One of the reasons for being stressed, as we can see from the documentary, is that a person cannot actualize his/her potential properly: this person is being either underestimated or suppressed, or the working environment is hostile and toxic. On the other hand, Dr. Friedman states, a person given a chance to unleash his/her potential is the one that flourishes. People can change their jobs and lifestyle radically, and it brings miraculous results. However, the most important point is that both sources refer to the history of humanity as far as the evolution process. Deep inside, people are instinctively ready for dangers that come in various forms, today; it is the voice of the millions of years of evolution, and it is in human blood. It shows that stress is only natural and human needs only to know how to cope with it and not be afraid of it.


To conclude, the subject of stress is undoubtedly important in modern life when everyone is exposed to stress. The sources under consideration will be of great interest not only to psychologists but to those who would like to know the reasons we get stressed and how to cope with it. The sources provide the audience with a full overview of the subject and conclude that stress is only natural for a human being. It is possible that the joy of pure adrenaline is the rudiment of our ancestors’ feelings when they managed to hunt down a nice fat mastodon; otherwise, there would be no such thing as “good stress”. What is more, the state, a person is mainly stressed when he/she has to follow the circumstances. Given the chance to decide for themselves and changing the environment people will find themselves healthier and happier.

Works Cited

Bickerstaff, Linda. Stress: Coping in a Changing World. New York, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2007. Print.

Friedman, Richard A. The New York Times, 2014. Web.

Krantz, David S., Beverly Thorn, and Janice Kiecolt-Glase. Psychology Help Center. American Psychological Association, n.d. Web.

Lowry, Christopher A. Re-evaluation of the Role of Serotonin in Stress – A “Systems- Level Approach.” Stress: Neural, Endocrine and Molecular Studies. Ed. Richard McCarty, Greti Aguilera, Esther L. Sabban, Richard Kvetnansky. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2003. 13-17. Print.

McGonigal, Kelly. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It. New York, New York: Penguin, 2015. Print.

Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 2011. Web.

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