Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

by Robert M. Sapolsky

Paperback(Third Edition)

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Renowned primatologist Robert Sapolsky offers a completely revised and updated edition of his most popular work, with over 225,000 copies in print

Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky's acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress.

As Sapolsky explains, most of us do not lie awake at night worrying about whether we have leprosy or malaria. Instead, the diseases we fear-and the ones that plague us now-are illnesses brought on by the slow accumulation of damage, such as heart disease and cancer. When we worry or experience stress, our body turns on the same physiological responses that an animal's does, but we do not resolve conflict in the same way-through fighting or fleeing. Over time, this activation of a stress response makes us literally sick.

Combining cutting-edge research with a healthy dose of good humor and practical advice, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers explains how prolonged stress causes or intensifies a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, ulcers, colitis, heart disease, and more. It also provides essential guidance to controlling our stress responses. This new edition promises to be the most comprehensive and engaging one yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805073690
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/01/2004
Edition description: Third Edition
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 26,270
Product dimensions: 6.51(w) x 8.96(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Robert M. Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museum of Kenya. He is the author of A Primate's Memoir and The Trouble with Testosterone, which was a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. A regular contributor to Discover and The Sciences, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, he lives in San Francisco.

Read an Excerpt

From Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers:

Regardless of how poorly we are getting along with a family member or how incensed we are about losing a parking spot, we rarely settle that sort of thing with a fistfight. Likewise, it is a rare event when we have to stalk and personally wrestle down our dinner. Essentially, we humans live well enough and long enough, and are smart enough, to generate all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads. How many hippos worry about whether Social Security is going to last as long as they will, or even what they are going to say on a first date? Viewed from the perspective of the evolution of the human kingdom, psychological stress is a recent invention. If someone has just signed the order to hire a hated rival after months of plotting and maneuvering, her physiological responses might be shockingly similar to those of a savanna baboon who has just lunged and slashed the face of a competitor. And if someone spends months on end twisting his innards in anxiety, anger, and tension over some emotional problem, this might very well lead to illness.

Table of Contents


1 Why Don't Zebras Get Ulcers?,
2 Glands, Gooseflesh, and Hormones,
3 Stroke, Heart Attacks, and Voodoo Death,
4 Stress, Metabolism, and Liquidating Your Assets,
5 Ulcers, the Runs, and Hot Fudge Sundaes,
6 Dwarfism and the Importance of Mothers,
7 Sex and Reproduction,
8 Immunity, Stress, and Disease,
9 Stress and Pain,
10 Stress and Memory,
11 Stress and a Good Night's Sleep,
12 Aging and Death,
13 Why Is Psychological Stress Stressful?,
14 Stress and Depression,
15 Personality, Temperament, and Their Stress-Related Consequences,
16 Junkies, Adrenaline Junkies, and Pleasure,
17 The View from the Bottom,
18 Managing Stress,
Illustration Credits,

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Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing for anyone who is stressed, was stressed or will be stressed in their lives. Sapolsky has a great ability to write for the biologist and the average person alike without the feeling that it is 'dumbed down'. As a biologist 'read: stressed' this book was the perfect way for me to realize that we are creatures built for short intense bouts of stress rather than the prolonged stress that we encouter ever day. Sapolsky defines the different types of stress, teaches the mechanisms of that stress and the bodily systems it affects and then even goes so far as to give ways to cope. The author has a great sense of humor so the book is never dull and boring, like your average science textbook. Not your typical self-help book. A great read for zebras and humans alike.
aikiguy More than 1 year ago
A great book and an introduction to some amazing science of the human mind and body. I can't recommend it enough. Although dense with science, it is craftily hidden in cool stories. You get to the end smarter, entertained, and understanding yourself much better.
SportCoach More than 1 year ago
This author is a humorous writer, describing the human predicament as one we have great control over but only if we choose to. This book is completely thorough in describing the effects of stress which are both good and bad. It is a bit more technical but if you don't mind rereading some text, you won't need any other book on the subject. There are no secrets to a healthy lifestyle, just a lot of common sense, valuing health and prioritizing life. This book describes both the why and the how of a healthy lifestyle.
bragan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An in-depth look at the nature of stress and the effects that it has on our bodies. The main idea here is that our reaction to stress evolved to be useful in a particular kind of acute, fight-or-flight situation, but the biological responses that are very helpful when you're spending ten minutes running away from a lion can be anything but helpful when you're sitting around all day fretting about how you're going to pay your mortgage. Actually, just reading this book can be pretty stressful, with its endless litany of horrible things that your worrying is probably doing to your body right this minute, although the author does at least try to end things on a comforting and hopeful note.This is definitely for people who are interested in the biological details of what happens in our bodies under stress: which hormones are released when, what they do, how they interact with each other, and how they have the effects they have. It was, perhaps, sometimes a little more detail than I really wanted, but Sapolsky leavens it all with humor and a pleasantly informal style, and does a good job of not insulting the reader's intelligence while being entertainingly sympathetic about how confusing some of it is.The version I have is the third edition, published in 2004, which apparently is significantly revised and contains a couple of new chapters, including one on sleep and stress, a topic that is particularly relevant to me as a shift-worker.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a scary, scary book, no kidding. Stress is caused by everything and is going to end up killing you!~ Sapolsky has done a ton of research about how stress affects health, and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers is a good break-down for the non-science crowd about how a lot of it works. He does throw around technical terms sometimes; don't get bogged down in them. And try not to stress about how to avoid stress after reading this :-)
joannasephine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you have any interest in popular science, or are curious about what exactly stress does to the human body (and why), then make a beeline to this book. It's funny, intelligent, very approachable, extremely well researched, and brilliantly well written. Somewhere between Oliver Sacks/Robert Winston and VS Ramachandran in style, with the accessibility and enthusiasm of the former meeting the erudition of the latter. Strongly recommended for curious minds everywhere!
strandbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again a very good non-fiction book recommended by my brother. The idea is that humans bodies react to psychological stressors (paying mortgages, dealing with a boss, spousal arguments) the same way zebras bodies react to being chased by a tiger. Our bodies generate the same type of hormones and close down the long-term mainteance areas to escape from the tiger. Obviously, the zebra doesn't do this day after day and at some point is eaten. So what does all this stress do to our bodies? A lot! It is kind of overwhelming as he spends 90% of the book saying how stress exacerberates and leads to many chronic diseases. Then the last 10% are general things to calm your body/mind so you don't generate the high stress reactors. To me this was very scientific...maybe if you majored in biology you wouldn't think so. I liked all the detailed science of it though as it shows important it is to manage stress since it definitely affects way more than the mind. The portions about poverty or feeling poor and how it impacts people was really interesting too.
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Maria Muni More than 1 year ago
Thank you Radiolab for introducing me to Robert Sapolsky
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