Summary of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping

Henry Holt,
First Edition: 1994 more...

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Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers book summary
Your body hits overdrive when a lion chases you – and when you worry. No lions? Then don’t worry. It’s bad for you.


10 Overall

9 Applicability

9 Innovation

10 Style


Your body is a sophisticated machine. If it were an automobile, it would be a top-of-the-line, luxury-class vehicle with all of the latest options. There’s just one problem: Your body was designed for the savannas of Africa, not the streets and sidewalks of some urban metropolis. This is a major issue due to one of your body’s great fail-safe systems: the stress-response mechanism, also called the “fight-or-flight syndrome.” This mechanism provides your body with its best chance to get away safely from sudden peril, such as when a lion attacks you. It immediately floods your muscles with robust energy. Thus strengthened, you are far more able to evade the hungry predator. Unfortunately, this same stress-response also kicks in during psychological stress. In much of modern city life (even without stalking lions), such stress is often chronic, making your stress-response mechanism work dangerously overtime, and putting your body at risk of numerous stress-related disorders and diseases. Robert M. Sapolsky, a leading neuroendocrinologist, explains it all in this lively and entertaining, yet highly informative book. He writes with delightful, ironic verve and dry, irrepressible wit. He details how chronic stress can undermine your health, and explains what you can do about it, even in the urban jungle. getAbstract feels calmer just suggesting that anyone experiencing stress could benefit from reading this book.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the stress-response mechanism is and how it works;
  • Why it exists;
  • How badly you are affected when chronic psychological stress triggers this response; and
  • How to manage stress.


Lions and Tigers and Zebras, Oh My!
A zebra on an African savanna lives a less complicated life than the average urban-dwelling human – but it is in far more danger. A zebra, indeed, all savanna animals, must routinely contend with severe, acutely physical crises. While grazing, resting...
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About the Author

Robert M. Sapolsky is a professor of biological sciences, neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. He conducts research on stress and neuron degeneration. In 1987, he received a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant.

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