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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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One of the precursors of stress from the 19th century, the outstanding French biologist Claude Bernard, speaking the language of contemporary man, drew attention to the skillful management of one’s “inner environment” (French: milieu intérieur). As a biologist and philosopher, he used the cell structure model and drew attention to the semipermeable membrane, which is responsible for maintaining the internal stability of the cell environment. His intuition regarding the biochemical mechanism responsible for maintaining this relative stability of the cell’s inner environment, despite external threats, was only confirmed after more than 100 years by three 2013 Nobel Prize winners in the field of physiology and medicine - James E. Rothman from Yale University (New Haven), Randy W. Schekman from University of California (Berkeley) and Thomas C. Südhof from Stanford University (Palo Alto) for “discovering the organization of the main cellular transport system that uses bubble-like vesicles surrounded by lipid membranes” as well as the 2016 Nobel Prize winner, Yoshinori Ohsumi from Tokyo University, for his discoveries regarding the autophagy process.

This model became the basis of the Theory of Homeostasis by American physiologist Walter B. Cannon, who at the turn of the 19th and 20th century developed it in relation to people, colloquially calling it the “wisdom of life”. Both models are referred to by psychological concepts of stress, using terms: “adaptation” or “adjustment”, bearing in mind, however, their limitations due to the complexity of mental processes, which, unlike animals’, are not based on...

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