Maximal Stress Cooperation

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= Book and Concept

The Book

* Book: MSC Maximal Stress Cooperation: The Driving Force of Cultures. by Heiner Mühlmann. Springer, 2005


(this book is out of print and costs over $900 second hand ?)

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"In 1996 my book ‘The Nature of Cultures’ appeared in Vienna and New York. It describes cultures as systems which are controlled by MSC and decorum. While MSC is a neologism meaning ‘maximal stress cooperation’ decorum is a very old term. It is as old as Western culture itself, and is furthermore, the translation of the even older Greek word ‘prepon’. Decorum and prepon mean ‘to be suitable, to be fitting’. It is all about the fitting of cultural medial contents to elementary cultural behavioural types and behavioural phases. These behavioural units are subject to a type of ranking system in which that which is essential is sorted from that which less essential. - corum then means – the representations of the media must ‘fit’ the ranking of the cultural behaviour. It is MSC which assumes the top position in this ranking. In 1996 and the two previous years when I was working on my book ‘The Nature of Cultures’ less than 5 years had passed since the Iron Curtain had been lifted. Many believed at that time that with ending of the Cold War, which was more or less de facto peace anyway, that a new and better age of peace was dawning."

The Concept

by Luís Carneiro:

“Heiner Mühlmann is one of the most relevant contributors to the emergent discipline of cultural science. In the context of this field of studies, Mühlmann developed a model which he has designated «Maximal Stress Cooperation» or MSC, in acronym, for which he has gathered data from molecular biology, neurophysiology, psychiatry, artificial intelligence, cultural anthropology, theory of art and philosophy. The underlying idea to this theoretical model is that culture is a wild animal whose fundamental dynamic must be understood in order to better control its development and violent drifts. The work of the author, as elaborated in the book The Nature of Cultures and in the essay Maximal Stress Cooperation – the driving force of cultures, and the interdisciplinary laboratory of which he is the director, possess, today, a range of influence, namely in decision centers of the German State apparatus and in global think tanks. His work has been fairly divulged in the context of the work of Peter Sloterdijk, for whom he represents a defining influence.

According to the author, all culture is grounded in maximal stress foundational events. The physiology of stress is a cognitive process by which a perception is transformed into an energy flux. By the perception of a stressor – a threat, a danger, an act of aggression – the hypothalamus and the hypophysis react by the liberation of hormones and neurotransmitters. The hypophysis – also called pituitary gland – constitutes the interface between the brain and the endocrine system. The endocrine system consists, in turn, of the collection of glands which liberate hormones into the blood stream and in the circulatory path used by those hormones to reach the diverse organs. In man, the neurocerebral system is assimilated to the mental-rational activity and the neuroendocrine system to the seat of feelings, affects and stress. The interface assures the connection between one and the other systems and represents the substratum of the phenomenon of self-evaluation, through which affects evaluate and interpret thoughts and thoughts evaluate and interpret affects in a feedback circuit.

The stress reaction provokes the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, which causes the acceleration of the heartbeat and the increase of blood pressure. Appetite and sleep are affected, the metabolism, immunocompetence, sensibility to pain and sexual activity are diminished. All the energy reserves of the organism are channeled to the skeletal muscles, in order to improve motor capacities, and the areas of the brain responsible for faster and more acute perceptions and reactions are reinforced. This mobilization in face of a crucial moment for the survival of the organism aims at a ready answer commonly called fight-or-flight response.

More important than the stress performance, though, is the feat of putting an end in a happy manner to the stress phase, which constitutes a second aspect of this cognitive Process – by which it is settled its healthy or unhealthy quality, since pathological stress leads to the chronic diminution of immunocompetence, depression and various diseases.

We have, thus, two phases of the cognitive process connected with stress, the first, in which the perceptual recognition of a stressor is converted into an energy flux oriented towards fight or flight, and the second, by which the stress activity is evaluated. If this evaluation is not negative, the organism accesses the post-stress phase of relaxation, characterized by a decrease of the hormonal rates and by a generalized amelioration of the health state. The access to the relaxation phase and the evaluation required for it, in face of a maximal stress event, are the preliminary conditions of any and all organized social systems.

In this line of thought, the author poses the following question: «what happens when stress, triggered by an individual stressor, operates on a population which possesses, thus, the function of a subject?»

First of all, in order for the stressor to act on a population in the strict sense and not over a mass of aggregated individuals it is necessary that it possesses beforehand an organization receptive to stress. This organization is the product of a cultural formation of delimitation and exclusion of a genetic and self-organizing type, which differentiates.”


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