Writing in the New York Times Sunday Review, Professor Lisa Barrett of Northeastern University posed a question this weekend:
"When is speech violence?"
Barrett, who specializes in psychology, tries to answer the question with two key points.
First, "Offensiveness is not bad for your body and brain. ... When you're forced to engage a position you strongly disagree with, you learn something about the other perspective as well as your own. The process feels unpleasant, but it's a good kind of stress — temporary and not harmful to your body — and you reap the longer-term benefits of learning."
No problem there. Stress is something we can internalize and compensate for.
But then Barrett warns against "long stretches of simmering stress. If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that's the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain." What kind of stress is Barrett talking about?
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