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Eustress and Distress: Reactivation


Jan Felicjan Terelak

The author of the book provides a comprehensive examination of stress, an integral part of people’s lives. In the first chapter, he reviews the 20th-century theories of stress, from biological mechanisms of stress through medical concepts to contemporary models of psychological stress. The second chapter provides a detailed classification of sources of stress, based on physical, chronobiological, psychological and social factors. In the third chapter, the author focuses on reactions to stress and presents them from physiological, emotional, cognitive and behavioral perspectives. The fourth chapter focuses on two theoretical constructs: resistance to stress and coping with stress. The author presents task-oriented, emotion-oriented and avoidance-oriented strategies of coping with stress and underlines the role of social support in dealing with stress.

The author emphasizes the fact that stress has many faces. It can be seen as "eustress", which has an important motivational function, forcing us to make efforts and achieve life goals, or "distress", which distracts us from achieving our goals and comfort of life.

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Relatively quick exhaustion of circulation of the 2017 academic textbook entitled: “Stres życia: Perspektywa psychologiczna” (Life stress: psychological perspective) has led me to publish a new edition in the form of a monograph addressed to a wide range of readers, not only psychologists. The present publication is mainly aimed at increasing the awareness of readers that “there is no life without stress” and at pointing out two aspects of it, which H. Selye (1974) named: “Eustress” (good motivational stress) and “Distress” (bad destructive stress).

Therefore, the recipients should certainly be, first of all, employees of various professional orientations, who are interested in the so-called stress factors in the physical and social environment of work or in the challenges posed by contemporary 21st-century civilization.

The title of the previous book The stress of life, to which I refer in my dedication, refers to the 58th anniversary of the translation into Polish of Hans Selye’s book entitled The stress of life, which for the first time in Polish psychology proposed a new term: “stress” (used by the translator in the original version - spelled with two “s”)1. The book provoked a lively discussion among Polish physiologists. For example, Polish physiologist Stanisław Kozłowski (1986) pointed out the important fact that the concept introduced by Selye did not correspond to the English physiological terms stress and strain. It should be noted that Selye (1936, p. 32) was aware of this fact, as he had not...

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