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Chronic Anxiety, the Adrenocortical Response, and Differentiation
 
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Code: DJ 1.2 (3) Jones
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James E. Jones, PhD

Chronic anxiety and differentiation are at the center of Bowen family systems theory. A case can be made that a high baseline of glucocorticoids, a characteristic of an organism with a continually activated adrenocortical axis, is one kind of chronic anxiety in an individual. High basal glucocorticoids can damage the individual in a number of ways. What, then, influences adrenocortical responding? An organisms's learning history and inherited level of readiness to react can influence its interpretation of potential challenges which would trigger the adrenocortical response. Furthermore, the organism's position in the relationship system and the state of the system can affect the reactivity of the individual. Robert Sapolsky, studying male baboons in the wild, learned that not only the individual baboon's position in the relationship system but also his manner of managing interactions has an influence on adrenocortical responding. Some of these behaviors may have some overlap with what would be regarded as differentiated functioning in human beings.


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