Thursday, February 2, 2012

In defense of knitting when times are tough, part five

For this portion, I am offering you information that was discovered by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. It is results of a study done in Cambridge. 

The study set up 3 groups of people and asked them to watch the film of a traumatic event.
  • One group was to do nothing while it watched.
  • One group was to talk to each other while it watched.
  • One group was to do a simple, repetitive task (like keyboarding) while it watched.
They then measured which group was least or most traumitized. What we usually get right is that the group least traumitized was the group working through the repetive task. What we don't usually get is that the group most traumitized was the group talking to each other. And then, of course, we might wonder what the science is behind these results. Here's what the scientists theorized.

We have two brains--not the right and left but the reptilian brain (known as the brain stem) and the cerebral cortex (what we think of when we picture the brain). The reptilian brain's job is survival: I will live or I will die. The cerebral cortex's job is reasoning: it thinks its way through situations.

Repetive tasks calm the reptilian brain. So the panicky brains were kept busy with  the keyboarding, and those folk could use their reasoning brains to realize that this was a horrible thing but that they were not personally theatened by it.

Talking to each other uses the cerebral cortex. So those talking had their reasoning brains engaged while their reptitlian brains were reacting in panic (which they likely exacrbated by talking to each other).

So . . . the reseachers decided that people who use worry beads or rosaries or who knit have always known what they were doing--calming themselves through stress with a repetitive task. My conclusion is that we should never watch the news without knitting in hand--especially if we feel inclined to discus it.

Your conclusion might be to keep knitting through tough times!

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