4th November 2018
HELMOND – The Western world is standing on the threshold of perhaps the greatest crisis it has ever faced. The cause is stress. Man as a species is no longer functioning as he should in today’s society and already there are disastrous consequences. These are the words of Erik Matser, clinical neuropsychologist from Helmond.
His statements are clear-cut. “If we continue in this way, we will not need an atomic bomb to completely eradicate ourselves. We need a different lifestyle to prevent disaster.”
The ever-increasing cases of burn-out in the Netherlands cost society 20 billion euros per year, says Matser. He bases this on figures provided previously by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). In addition, to make matters worse, this condition often leads to permanent brain injury.
“In the Netherlands about 1 in 5 people do not work, due to stress and burnout,” says Matser. “These people are, because they lack the energy, literally too tired to work. It usually befalls relatively young people.”
Matser: “Because of our way of life, many people develop brain dysfunctions and therefore get persistent complaints that can seriously impede normal function. There are many GP’s that do not know this.”
Matser has, based on his own findings, several medical publications on the subject under his name. “We have lost contact with who we really are. And we no longer know what we need to stay healthy and energetic.”
“Perfectionism is a dagger in the backs of young people”
Groundbreaking for Matser, who gained international fame by doing research on brain injuries in sports, was a lecture by Nadine Burke, a pediatrician from San Francisco. “She discovered that persistent stress (‘Toxic Stress’) in children cause brain dysfunction and changes in the brain anatomy.”
Matser: “People who grow up with persistent stress during their childhood actually develop other connections in the brain, whereby the fear center is activated more quickly and remains activated for a longer time. That does not just go away. The consequences are often lifelong. “Harvard Medical School also recently demonstrated that living in a stressful environment literally breaks down nerve cells as a result of the persistent high level of alertness.
Matser: “In our society too many people are buried under a deluge of information. Eighty per cent of my own students say that they cannot even spend a day without their cell phone and email. The brain stays in high voltage continuously and many young people cannot process that. ”
Making important choices at a too young age, working under increasing pressure, are also things that have disastrous consequences. Matser: “Perfectionism is a dagger in the backs of young people. Mind you: perfectionism is an anxiety disorder, you get sick from it.”
We need to grow up and develop in a life that suits our mental speed and our own unique motivational attitude. “Ask yourself in which company culture you function best. A bookkeeper can fail in a company because he does not fit in with the corporate culture. But in a different environment he may excel. Why did Bergkamp fail at Inter and did he get his own statue at Arsenal? He found the most suitable environment.”