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Eustress and Distress: Reactivation

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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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1 Theoretical foundations of stress

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The theoretical foundations of stress have a rich history, which we use as a criterion to organize our deliberations on the various concepts of stress. Looking for the beginnings of modern history of stress we come across a 17th century engineering model of Robert Hooke’s bridge structure, in which the author distinguished such physical components of the bridge as: load, stress and strain, which three centuries later found their application in describing various aspects of stress both in biological and psychological terms.

A model of the structure of the R. Hooke’s bridge was in a sense a forerunner of the 19th century model of “milieu intérieur” by French biologist Claude Bernard and the 20th century model of “homeostasis” by American physiologist Walter Cannon, as well as the model of “General Adaptation Syndrome” by Hans Sely, a Canadian doctor of Hungarian origin, and a number of psychological models using the term “adaptation to stress”, among which two models by American psychologists are at the forefront: “frustration model” by J. Dollard and N.A Miller and the “cognitive” model of Richard S. Lazarus and Susan Folkman. We will discuss selected models of stress, because the detailed history of this issue is the subject of the Encyclopedia of Stress and many other studies (Fink, ede., 2007).

1.1 Biological take on stress

The biological concepts of risk were based on the knowledge of the adaptation of living organisms to the external environment and attempts to explain...

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