Return Home

Growing Up is Awfuler than All the Awful things that Ever Were

Back to Episode

We now know that too much stress makes you sick. Fifty years ago, we had no idea. Credit an upholsterer, a chair, and some lab rats. Dr. Paul J. Rosch, President of the American Institute of Stress, describes a series of not so nice things he and his colleagues did to rodents which began to illuminate what it means to be "stressed out." Dr. Robert Sapolsky takes us to the edges of our seats, literally, as he explains the discovery of Type A personality, and why being a Type A person is worse for you then smoking. Speaking of chairs, upholsterer Charles Young helps us smooth our wrinkles. And we conclude this segment with a trip to one of the truly bizarre outposts of medicine - stressed dwafism - and story of a much beloved author caught in a body that never grew up.

Comments [9]


The JM Barrie part is untrue. Vet your sources.

Mar. 17 2018 12:05 AM
robin d gill from Miami

The simplifications are simplifications. Barrie may have had missing enzymes that made him have bad absorption (in my case, coconut charcoal has worked wonders on the same). Those psychological exclamations suck. They are like the people convinced the cause of ulcers was all mental before the true cause was found. My gut instinct is two words: F off!\

Dec. 12 2015 01:03 PM
darby from brooklyn

"great moments in american upholstery!" is my new favorite radio lab moment lol

Nov. 09 2015 08:45 PM

I have a family member, we can call him James. James once had a little brother who he truly loved. He used to feed him and play with him, and fall asleep with him at night. When James was 5 and his brother Timmy was almost 2, Timmy died. And James stopped growing.

I remember James when he was 8, and most thought he was 4. At 11 most thought he was 6. He never grew much, and he always remember his little brother.

He loved his dad, I remember him being really happy when he came back from a visit with his dad. His dad died as well, when he was about 14. By then his growing had long ceased.

I ran into James a few years ago. He's an adult now, just got out of jail for the third or fourth time. He still looks a few age groups younger than he actually is. His voice is deep now, but not really. It has a bit of twang, that is all.

We never got along when we were kids, honestly he was a little shit. I think I might give him a call, see how he's doing. I have a very distinct memory of him loving the movie Hook, and us watching it over and over. We were driving once and heard a Paul Harvey story about J.M. Barrie. I don't remember if he was paying attention or not.

Mar. 18 2012 01:02 AM
Monick Halm from Los Angeles, CA

Hey Guys,

I love this show. I am a little behind (just listened to this particular episode via podcast today). There is one point, that might have been interesting for your listeners - most science research on stress has been conducted on men. This "fight or flight" adrenal response is not the way women tend to deal with stress. I don't blame you for not making the point in your show - your show aired in 2007 and this UCLA study came out in 2009.

Unlike men, women have a "tend or befriend" response to stress. In stressful times, women want to tend children and gather with other women. This releases oxytocin in women and calms them down. Listening to your show, I realized this may be a helpful response for men too (as evidenced by the older male baboons who coped best when they befriended the females).

Anyway, I love the show and thought you would find this new study interesting.

Jun. 30 2011 07:14 PM
Shamash from London, UK

Hi Radiolabers,

Love the show - so nice to have something funny and informative at the same time.

I run mindfulness meditation courses to reduce stress across in London, UK. If anyone out there is interested see

Thanks again guys, and keep up the AMAZINGLY GOOD work. Radiolab is the best science radio program I have ever heard.

Dec. 23 2008 06:16 AM
E. Anderson from Maryland

As a college professor who enjoys using NPR radio clips and transcripts in my teaching, I am sometimes concerned about having my students read the transcripts that contain numerous errors. Not only is there a typo (dwafism should be dwarfism), but the incorrect use of "then" -- twice! This is a frequent error my students make and something that infuriates me every time I see the incorrect use appear in "professional materials." How can I effectively teach my students that "then" and "than" are not interchangeable and mean very, very different things if they continue to see them used improperly. Please, please, please have a professional proofread these texts. As an extensive consumer of NPR in my private and professional life, I find such errors to be embarrassing.

Mar. 14 2008 01:40 PM
toasterhead from Washington, DC

The moon is actually above the stratosphere, just FYI.

It's also 239,000 miles from The Cure.

Mar. 04 2008 08:43 AM
Nellie Haddad from Atlanta, GA

I think what you guys need is a former Shakespeare scholar, now university administrator to balance out all the success stories of your staff and bring the intelligence level down from the stratosphere to the moon. I'd be happy to consider helping.

Jul. 30 2007 08:34 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.