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Reptilian Rant at the Miss USA Pagent

I’m sure that everyone has heard about the Miss California, Perez Hilton incident. But what they probably don’t know was that Perez’s reptilian response was very typical. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not excusing or condoning his behavior.

Perez felt, as do most people with differing opinions, that when an opposite view is merely presented, no matter how nice a manner, that he is under attack. I’m sure lots are reading this with a “not me” attitude. “I can surely listen to a counter opinion placidly.” And you may indeed. I’m here to tell you it’s tough. Not that we all respond on national television as belligerently as Perez Hilton. But we all have the capacity to do it.

So, Perez, a gay man who relishes in being different as well as being the underdog,
takes any dissent as a personal attack, and reacts accordingly. Even though, Carrie Prejean answered a completely loaded question with more grace than most could muster in a similar situation, it was the “wrong” answer in Hilton’s eyes. This triggered an automatic belligerent response. He was stuck in his lowest brain [the brain stem], probably letting her opposing response fester there so he was rendered incapable of reasoning. Tolerance was simply not an option for him. Tolerance requires thinking from our higher brains. Often by the time we realize what is happening, the damage has already been done.

This may be the case with Perez Hilton. I hear he is requesting to have dinner with Prejean, which she is understandably declining. Even though it is an automatic reptilian response, we must still take responsibility for any harm done. He may be attempting to reach out to make amends, but I kind of doubt it.

c.2009

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The Fight or Flight Stress Response

The fight or flight stress response is controlled by our brain stems. You may have heard it called the “reptilian brain.” It is called this because our human brain stems are equal to the entire brain of a lizard or other such reptile. When the primitive little reptile gets stressed out about something, the only way it can respond is to “fight,” leave, or to “freeze.” You may have heard this called the fight or flight stress response. This is built into our brains for our protection.

But as with all aspects of human nature, it has the capacity to go terribly awry. The “reptilian brain” is our most primitive brain and doesn’t think or reason. Therefore it cannot tell the difference between real or imagined stress. Unless we move the situation up to the more cerebral regions of our brains (where we can think and reason), it will automatically react as if the perceived stress were life-threatening.

This can encourage some very scary or comical behavior depending on how you look at it.

People as young as elementary school aged kids have “reptilian moments.” Do you remember when you were playing sports, and during the heat of the game, everything seemed so dire. The poor unathletic types would often get a brutal tongue-lashing, and sometimes more, if they didn’t catch or hit the ball in the right way.

Our young brain stems didn’t know it wasn’t a dire situation. It was just programmed to survive, by any means possible. “Fight” is the usual means employed in this situation. Since I was an unfortunate, uncoordinated soul, I would often choose the “flight” method for dealing with my stress.

As we grow older, our reptilian moments don’t go away and certainly don’t get any more sophisticated.
Our workplaces abound with reptiles. It can be almost comical when it’s not so darn annoying.
If we don’t learn to deal with the reptiles (because they are not going anywhere), we risk our own sanity.

I’d love to hear some of your reptilian moments at work.

c. 2009

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Political Reptiles


What is it about a differing political opinion that can make one defensive, or just plain rude? I’ve encountered plenty of usually nice people, who will “attack” at the slightest differing political opinion (I’ve even done it myself plenty of times).  I want to hear thoughts on this. Why do politics affect us this way? Is it really about the issues & politicians or is it more about the ideals behind them?  Or is it  just a way to validate ourselves, proving that we’re right?….b

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