A lot of people seem to think of one thing when we think of arousal, SEX, well that is true too but it isn’t the only form of arousal. Arousal is a wide topic, and merely a form of stress. We as humans love certain kinds of stress in the right doses. We love a roller coaster, bungee jumping, sky diving, scary movies, dancing, and exercising, they all are just forms of arousal.
An Intro to Arousal, Stress, and the SNS
Arousal is when your Sympathetic Nervous System kicks in, it is that flight-or-fight response our body carries when we are in trouble. The Sympathetic Nervous System is a part of the Autonomic Nervous System along with the Parasympathetic and Enteric systems. This system is used for one of three reasons not two as it’s commonly thought. Freeze-Flight-or-Fight is really what happens with the SNS.
We need to use this system here and there, it is something that happens in nature and it is something you need to happen in your regular life. This is why working out is so important (not that I’m the best guy to model when it comes to exercise) you need to get your body aroused regularly. You need your SNS to be in good working order. I can go into more detail on its’ lay out but you don’t need much more than the fact that it is the same system that zebras, wildebeests, etc. use when a lion chases them.
This is a normal part of stress in nature, stress in animals isn’t when bills need to get paid, it isn’t when you can’t fuck that woman you want, it isn’t when your parents died, it’s simple, it’s a function used purely for survival. SNS responds to several different situations but there are only three things that it really represents, freeze-flight-or-fight. When we are scared sometimes the first thing that happens normally is we freeze, this is similar approach anxiety a lot of times. Our next response is normally flight- to run or get away from the danger, this is what animals use when a predator chases them. Fight is normally our very last response, think of a wooly mammoth cornered by cavemen, they throw their head around tusks swinging fighting to get the predator off of them. It is our last instinctual form of defense.
One of the Issues with Arousal
One of the main issues with arousal is the fact that when arousal shows up regardless of the reasoning sexual or any other it shows up pretty much the same. Arousal is Arousal is Arousal, though different things arouse us there really are no physical differences between sexual arousal, fear (roller coaster), and a fight when you observe arousal. Arousal is something that can be motivated by a thought, something you see, something you feel, a movie, an experience, etc. Those can be sexual or nonsexual alike.
What happens to the body during Arousal?
During arousal there are slight changes in body language, most people wouldn’t notice consciously but we do notice subconsciously. One study done had men compare two pictures of the same woman and rate which picture was more attractive, the study showed the men chose the picture with one Photoshop difference more often.
(Not Actual Picture)
The one difference was pupil dilation was enhanced. During arousal there is a release of endorphins, increase serotonin and dopamine level, this is what makes arousal so addicting. Working out, scary movies, or extreme sports all help you feel good, and feeling good is addicting.
When are SNS kicks in our body prepares to take action, our breathing begins to become erratic. Our body needs oxygen to take action. The blood flow increases with oxygen so that we can have our bodies ready to act in case of any immediate danger, arousal is an age old reaction, it is one of our most primal behaviors. For this reason our breathing becomes erratic.
Our heart beats rapidly as it oxygenates our body, pushing blood through our blood stream quickly for quick action in case of danger. The one difference between fear arousal and anger arousal is your hands get cold to run for fear. If you shake hands with someone afraid from a serious lie there can be a difference in temperature in their hands. The blood flows away from the hands and into your legs making your hands cooler when you are terrified. The reason being is your hands lose blood flow is so that you can run away(flight) from the danger.