Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Maybe his reference to being "wee-weed up" is an attempt to make the adversity specific (about health care only rather than about encroachment by government into private life) and temporary (an August event), rather than permanent. He may be hoping that this type of disputation will result in energizing his troops.

Or it could be that this inappropriate comment uttered by the nation's president might be a reaction to the chronic stress he has been under this summer, particularly over his proposed health care changes.

According to a Gallup poll, Obama's job approval rating has dropped from 68 percent in mid-January to 52 percent last week. Even more dramatic is the steady climb in disapproval over his job performance — from 12 percent in mid-January to 42 percent now. This net differential of approve-disapprove has moved from 56 percent to 10 percent.

A study published last month in the journal "Science" concluded that chronic stress rewires the brain, creating new circuits that intensify the impact of habits and lowering the ability to make decisions, which in turn promotes even more stress. In the study, rats under chronic stress continued to operate by habit even though doing so did not lead to the desired outcome (i.e., perseveration).

If, paraphrasing Albert Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," then chronic stress made the rats insane.

This neurological model might explain why we often dig ourselves into a rut, and then continue to dig it deeper.

The study also found that a four-week vacation provided the rats with a long enough respite to rebuild their circuits and regain their ability to make better decisions. One can only hope that Obama's week on Martha's Vineyard might provide this same respite, allowing him to come back able to work with his critics rather than resort to belittling them with inappropriate comments.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.