Spirituality is the sense that one is somehow greater than the sum
of one's parts. What makes those parts and enables them to be greater
is biological and can be explained on the basis of receptors, synapses,
and neurons. But it becomes extra-biological in the sense that we
create it. . . . Every thought we have is the result of enormous
input from many places that is fed back and processed through neuronal
circuits. It seems immediate because the speed is so fast, but in
fact it is a synthesis of many things, some of which are emotional--not
only emotions coming up through the limbic system, but also emotional
memories. Memories of emotions are stored in the amygdala. . . .
The ability to store memories and to synthesize all these synaptic
impulses and bring them together and to make sense out of our memories
is what is unique to the human spirit.
--Sherwin B. Nuland, clinical professor of surgery at the Yale
University School of Medicine, speaking as part of the conference
Perspectives on Health and Healing: Can Science and Religion Work
Together? on April 12, 2003
The Executive Excedrin
In the mid 1950s, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of
Research conducted what became known as the "executive monkey"
experiment. Researchers placed two monkeys at opposites sides of
the same cage and administered electric shocks to their feet every
twenty seconds. The monkey on the left, the so-called "executive
monkey," could shield both monkeys from the shock if he pressed
the lever on his side every twenty seconds. That responsibility
on the poor little monkey put a lot of stress on him, and researchers
were unsurprised to discover in test after test that it was the
monkey with the added responsibility of shielding the team from
pain who became demonstrably agitated and died first.
When the executive monkey was tranquilized, however, he did his
job of protecting the two monkeys much better. And the logic was,
what worked for executive monkeys presumably worked for executive
men. The use of tranquilizers among businessmen was so widespread
in the 1950s that Milltown got the nickname of "Executive Excedrin."
In 1957 a nationwide survey on tranquilizer use among executives
found that one-third of all respondents used them, and half of those
were habitual users.
--Andrea Tone, professor of history and director of graduate
studies in the School of History, Technology, and Society at the
Georgia Institute of Technology, speaking on "The Gendered
Mind: Women, Men, and the Rise of Tranquilizers in Modern Medicine"
on May 18, 2003