It might sound at first that it would be good for people to constantly be in the conservation mode. For, after all, one can never have too many resources and it is always good to conserve energy and resources, even if you have plenty, for potential problems that may lie ahead. However, resources are only of any value when they are put to use. The physical, mental, social and emotional resources that human beings have are necessary for their survival and productivity. They are put to use in providing for food and clothing, building shelters and homes, and building important interpersonal relationships that are of great value in times of difficulty. These resources are also important for the building of strong communities and societies. They are important in creating new ventures and making machines and tools that make life easier and increase the standard of living. They are necessary for the building up of mankind in general. So conserving resources continually can be a very big problem, especially when it prevents the resources from being used appropriately under the right conditions.
I believe that the body entering into conservation mode is an adaptive response in times and places where there is insufficient food, nutrients, or resources available to maintain life. For example, if a man was in prehistoric times and he broke his leg and was unable to hunt or obtain food efficiently, he would probably survive longer without food if his metabolism would appropriately decrease under the given circumstances. Likewise, his family could better survive the period of time without food if their metabolism slowed down appropriately. When his injured leg healed sufficiently to enable him to hunt again and obtain food for himself and his family, it would be appropriate for their metabolism to return to normal, enabling them to be more healthy and productive. If this response were not present when he broke his leg and was unable to feed his family, the metabolism would continue at the same pre-injury rate and there would be a greater chance that he and his family would starve and die.
This adaptive response can become maladaptive in the 20th century when an injured person can be taken to the hospital and given meals or l.V. nutrients to prevent starvation. His family may be able to go to the supermarket to purchase food, thereby eliminating the possibility of starving to death as the man is healing. In this situation, the response can be maladaptive because his metabolism may automatically drop in response to his injury. The function of his enzymes and his utilization of energy in order to heal may be impaired because of a less than optimal body temperature. The body enzymes, including those responsible for healing, may not function as effectively as they could.
Poor healing is a common finding in the patients that I see suffering from classic cases of Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. They frequently do not heal as quickly, and often will have sores that will persist much longer than would be otherwise expected. Many patients have undergone surgery and have, during convalescence, developed many other symptoms of Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. They can even suffer complications from the surgery in terms of wound infection, poor healing, and may even have to be opened again for revision of the wound because of infection and/or poor healing. Many of these patients notice that they do not heal as well with the onset of the symptoms of Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. Thus, Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome is a great condition to have in response to periods of fasting or famine, but it is not the most productive condition to have when there are good hospitals and food supplies available.
Thus, the conservation mode is maladaptive when it keeps the body from being happy, healthy, strong, and productive when there is no real threat of starvation. And the productivity mode is maladaptive when the body does not slow down under appropriate conditions and when it puts the body in danger of starving.
I frequently tell people with Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome that it is not all together bad that they have the ability or tendency to develop the condition, because they have the capacity to slow down under adverse conditions and are probably less likely to starve if the supermarkets close down. But it is not the best condition to have if they want to enjoy healthy, happy and productive lives.
As I discuss later, there are a large number of disturbing symptoms that can result and maladaptively persist from Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. Many of these symptoms are familiar to all of us and are therefore often considered “normal.” But there is a difference between common and ideal. It should not be assumed that these symptoms are mild, because they are often extremely debilitating. They can be so incapacitating that they can render a person almost a “metabolic cripple.” It is maladaptive when these disturbing and burdensome complaints and symptoms persist inappropriately, when there is no need for the body’s metabolism to be slow.
Since Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome is essentially a stress and starvation coping mechanism gone amuck, one may be able to see how certain maladaptive situations can present themselves. For example, a person may be faced with being laid off from work because of the closing out of their department, and begin to have feelings of being overwhelmed and may enter into some depression and may develop headaches and other symptoms of the conservation mode. These symptoms are often brought on by a drop in body temperature patterns. The person may also have a tendency for increased fatigue and decreased motivation, and all these complaints may make it more difficult for the person to find alternative work If the person does have difficulty finding another job, then the temperature might drop further in response. This may result in worsening of the symptoms and thereby further decrease the available resources the person may need in order to find a job.
In Summary, the greater the tendency a body has to enter into the conservation mode, the greater the tendency a body has to remain in the conservation mode. The proper functioning of the body depends, in large part, on how effectively and how appropriately the body enters into and out of the conservation and productivity modes.