Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Windego

A Chippewa Legend

Two Ojibwa Indians in a canoe had been blown far from shore by a great wind. They had gone far and were hungry and lost. They had little strength left to paddle, so they drifted before the wind. At last their canoe was blown onto a beach and they were glad, but not for long.
Looking for the tracks of animals, they saw some huge footprints which they knew must be those of a giant. They were afraid and hid in the bushes. As they crouched low, a big arrow thudded into the ground close beside them. Then a huge giant came toward them. A caribou hung from his belt, but the man was so big that it looked like a rabbit. He told them that he did not hurt people and he like to be a friend to little people, who seemed to the giant to be so helpless.
He asked the two lost Indians to come home with him, and since they had no food and their weapons had been lost in the storm at sea, they were glad to go with him. An evil Windigo spirit came to the lodge of the giant and told the two men that the giant had other men hidden away in the forest because he liked to eat them. The Windigo pretended to be a friend, but he was the one who wanted the men because he was an eater of people. The Windigo became very angry when the giant would not give him the two men, and finally the giant became angry too. He took a big stick and turned over a big bowl with it. A strange animal which the Indians had never seen before lay on the floor, looking up at them. It looked like a wolf to them, but the giant called the animal ‘Dog.’ The giant told him to kill the evil Windigo spirit. The beast sprang to its feet, shook himself, and started to grow, and grow, and grow. The more he shook himself, the more he grew and the fiercer he became. He sprang at the Windigo and killed him; then the dog grew smaller and smaller and crept under the bowl.
The giant saw that the Indians were much surprised and please with Dog and said that he would give it to them, though it was his pet. That, as the Indians tell, was how the first dog came to the Earth.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Affects of chronic pain

So I have been dealing with chronic back pain for years. I came across something I found interesting. Discussing how people tolerate changes to their bodies. One person is able to tolerate pain or alcohol more than another.

It's a physical thing.

There's this idea in biology called "homeostasis". Basically, your body has an idea of chemical balance, and it adjusts to stay balanced. Like: it's hot out, so you sweat, so you cool down, then you stop sweating. Or you eat candy, which raises your blood sugar. Your body will release insulin, which will lower your blood sugar. As it gets back to normal, insulin release tapers off.

This applies to everything. If you drink alcohol once, it'll make you drunk. If you drink it every day, your body will start adjusting to compensate for it, and you'll have a harder and harder time getting drunk. Soon alcohol just brings you up to normal. If you then stop drinking, your body will now be off-balance in the other direction, and you'll go into withdrawal until homeostasis can be restored.

Pain? Similar deal. Your brain tries to maintain homeostasis. Acute, agonized misery is only sustainable for so long. If the pain itself can't be dulled down, your emotional reaction to it can be. The emergency shutoff switch is when this doesn't work, and *all* your emotions are cranked down as far as they can go. That includes distress, pleasure, and fear: basically, it causes apathetic depression.  This is why you can't just expect people to "get used" to severe pain.

When I say this applies to everything, I mean it. Sex, gambling, sugar, background noise, *everything* is filtered through your perceptions in this way. Why aren't rich people all happy? Because that level of prosperity is their new normal. What's up with Stockholm syndrome? Victims become desensitized to abuse, and their expectations for "kindness" are steadily reduced. Why aren't teenagers overwhelmed by the pace of the internet? Because it's normal for them. Why don't safer cars reduce the number of fatal accidents? Because people just do dumber things in order to maintain the same sense of acceptable risk.

This one principle explains quite a bit about why people act the way they do.