Your Neurochemical Self

Getting real with a 200-million-year-old brain

Awareness of Death Makes Us Human

A big brain can terrorize itself with its own awareness of death. To stop that cortisol loop, imagine a stool resting on three legs: control, distraction, and building a legacy. The seat of the stool is your ability to sit with your cortisol for 20 minutes instead of fueling it. Read More

Whistling through the graveyard

Graveyard humor evident in the whole concept of Halloween – also of apocalypse tales, horror movies, ghost stories, and other such popular fare – is a way of coping with the certainty of death, too.

I notice references to mortality seem to become a little less playful and less indulgent from those around age 50 though. Take some examples from popular music: Frank Sinatra released the album “The September of My Years” at age 50 with a bunch of time-conscious tracks; Peggy Lee had a hit with “Is That All There Is?” at age 49; Bob Dylan at age 56 released the album “Not Dark Yet” with lyrics such as “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there” and “I’m sick of love, I hear the clock tick”; on her 2013 album “Fragile” 55 y.o. Joan Jett mentions the death of her mother and on another track sings “I think about my own mortality.” Well, all four have succeeded in beating the reaper in one respect: folks will be listening their music for a very long time.


Joan's album is "Unvarnished." "Fragile" is one of the tracks on it.

66 is the new 56

You have no doubt heard of the "organ recital," where people get together and talk about which body parts hurt.

Deliberate absence of

Deliberate absence of anything approaching the inhuman evils of religion/spirituality. More post-hoc justification of suffering avoidable by accepting a different existential narrative. No, this suffering somehow magically, immutably, metaphysically "human" in spite of it's inferred pointlessness.

I know that no matter the evidence of it's psychological efficacy, they'll never consider it, and no matter how much they absorb about the evolutionary sociology of touting how tough you are, everyone else will never stop championing their nihilism as a heroic, magical, self-realized virtue, beating you down for ever considering any other way. That's why I'll never forgive what they did to me.

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Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., is a Zoo Docent and Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, East Bay. 


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