Friday, 26 January 2007

'Stress' hormones again

As reported by the BBC, researchers have found that large levels of cortisol crossing into the placenta can cause later mental and behavioural problems like ADHD in children. As we report in our book, it can also lead to dysregulation of the hormone rhythyms in the individual, which has physiological consequences, as mediated for instance by cortisol's effect on the immune system.

Like noradrenalin mentioned in the last post, cortisol is tagged as a 'stress' hormone. I use the quotes since we are critical of the stress construct in our book. The term often is used to avoid confronting particularities of the 'stressed' individual. For example, where in the cases reported in the BBC article we hear that "stress caused by rows with or violence by a partner was particularly damaging", this tends to steer us away from any sociological or psychological understanding of the violence.

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