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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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2 Identification of stressors


Psychological stressors can be of various nature. The most commonly talked about are ecological threats to man and the Earth, shared by contemporary people, supporters of post modernity and global capitalism. It is difficult to accept any common classification of sources of stress, as they significantly exceed the list of environmental risks and, moreover, there are no applicable distribution criteria. The criterion adopted should cover both the type of stress stimulus, its strength (intensity), as well as the duration or frequency of its occurrence. In the latter case, we are dealing with a distinction between incidental and chronic stress, which is important because their effects can vary. The criterion of the strength of a stress stimulus is also not very convenient despite its quantitative characteristics, as it is not only the physical component of the force itself that is important, but the psychological significance of the stimulus, which significantly modifies the response to stress.

When contemplating the organism as a multidimensional unit, attention is drawn to the fact that environmental and personal factors are transactional because, by influencing each other, they cause stress responses to reflect the new systemic quality of the organism. This infinite number of transactions has prompted some psychologists to seek a correlation between a single environmental factor and an individual reaction of the organism, and others to take the approach that the environment is such a compact entity that it should not be dissected into individual factors at all. The first of...

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