I’m stealing a post from another therapist, Dr Henry Cloud. I’ve posted before about the importance of sharing our lives with other people. Well, here’s some scientific evidence of the positive effects of this from our friends, the monkeys. As I have walked the path of my daughter’s lung transplant, this need has become so apparent. I am more calm, in part because of the support system I have. This past week I was concerned about how she was doing. We have learned that one of her medication levels was too high which was a contributor to her nausea. No big problems, just little ones. It was a friend who helped me put my concerns in perspective which brought a calming effect. Left to myself, in isolation, I can percolate on problems and turn them into seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Ah, the gift of companions!
Dr. Cloud says, “One of my favorite studies was done years ago with monkeys, measuring the effects of relationships on cortisol levels in the brain. (Cortisol is a hormone associated with high levels of stress.) In this particular experiment, a monkey was put in a cage and exposed to a high level of psychological stress, including loud noises and flashing lights. They pretty much scared him to death.
When the monkey was totally terrified, the scientists took a baseline measure of stress hormone levels in the monkey’s brain as it was exposed to these stressors.
Next, the researchers introduced one change into the experiment: they opened the door and put a buddy, another monkey, into the cage. That was it. They exposed the monkeys to the same loud noises and flashing lights, and then took another measure of stress hormones. The Result? The level of stress hormones in the brain had dropped in half. The lone monkey was only half as good at handling stress as the pair was together.
So my question for you guys… who’s your monkey?!”
I got a kick out of one person’s comment to this. She said there are certain monkeys she has to remove from her cage. They don’t help her at all. She is choosy about the monkeys she lets in. Good advice for all of us!