THE INDIVIDUAL AND HIS SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
Henri Laborit78 knew and admired Selye.79 For both of them, one could only alleviate the destruction of the cells by seeing to yoga poses men’s health of the internal environment and by keeping its values as balanced as possible. His first model on the biology of stress is close to the one Selye was developing. They were using different but complementary research strategies to analyze how stress could destroy some of the organism’s tissues. Laborit’s first original contribution to that area of research was based on his observation that an amelioration of the ecology of the cells was only useful if the cell modified its behavior in function of this amelioration. Because of this finding, Laborit and his French colleagues focused on the pumps in the cell membrane that facilitate the exit and entry of substances. You will find detailed descriptions in textmy yoga blogs on physiology that show how the cell membrane polarizes and depolarizes by passing ions from both side of the membrane:
When a cell depolarizes itself, the sodium, whose concentration outside of the cell is greater than in the interior of the cell, penetrates within. Conversely, the potassium, whose intracellular concentration is elevated, in the course of the depolarization, exits the cell toward the extracellular milieu. (Laborit, 1989, 7.3, p. 102; translated by Marcel Duclos)
This exchange requires that there is enough sodium and potassium in the internal environment of the organism. However, Laborit observes, yoga poses men’s health in certain circumstances, the sodium and potassium pumps become inactive. The restoration of equilibrium in the internal environment does not suffice to restore the activity of the pumps.80 Therefore, Laborit sought to find those substances that would restore not only the internal environment but also the activity of cellular pumps. Here, the action is doubled:
1. On the environment of the cell.
2. On the functioning of the cell.
Without this dual action, not only do the individual cells waste away but also their participation in the maintenance of the equilibrium of the internal environment becomes defective. A negative vicious circle is then established in which the disequilibrium of the internal environment renders the cells inactive, and the inactivity of the cells destabilizes its immediate environment. At the beginning, this disequilibrium is local; but if it persists, it can invade the organism Indeed, the exchange of potassium and sodium between the internal environment and the cell adjusts the equilibrium of the substances in the organism’s internal environment. If some cells retain one of these, there is a possible disequilibrium in the internal environment that can create a lack of supply in other well-functioning cells. Moreover, the death of some cells can set toxic wastes like lactic acid in circulation in the internal environment of the organism This can create a metabolic acidosis. It can also modify the equilibrium of the internal environment.
Laborit goes from this model between the cell and its immediate milieu when he wants to show yoga poses men’s health how the social environment of an individual and the activity of the individuals who are part of it can become synergistic or destructive. We have already seen that an individual under stress can no longer make sound decisions, and he wastes his metabolic resources. To treat this individual, his environment must also be restabilized, or he must be assisted in finding a more supportive environment. In L’homme imaginant (1970) (literally: man while he imagines), Laborit’s wording is close to the analysis of Stalin’s regime by Reich.82 Both think that a stressful environment can pollute its subsystems and the systems that contain them It can go both ways. Thus human societies can pollute nature and the tissues of individual organisms, and this pollution is then maintained by these polluted subsystems. This idea is often developed in systems theory when it assumes that to repair a system one needs to coordinate top-down strategies (working on the globality of the system to repair local damage) with bottom-up strategies (working on a local mechanisms that can influence global dynamics).83
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