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.
3 Diagnosis of stress response
The experience of many generations concerning adaptive mechanisms of a person shows that stress responses are controlled by two adaptive systems: preventive or pathological. The preventive system is associated: 1) with the ability to learn new behaviors to prevent or minimize the adverse effects of stress by regulating the level of stimulation; 2) with the organization of a conceptual system in order to identify sources of stress and to plan strategies for dealing with it. The transition to a pathological system is associated with a lack of effectiveness of the preventive system in the long run, which is caused by the specific features of the individual or the features of stress (type, strength, duration). The pathological stress response system is characterized by such reactions as: 1) learning disorders which make it difficult to use previous experiences when dealing with stress; 2) failure to cope with extreme situations of sensory deprivation or excessive stimulation, specific to different types of neuroses; 3) disorders in the integration of the individual conceptual system specific to different types of psychoses (e.g. schizophrenia), causing withdrawal from the real world and closing oneself up in the subjective world. The latter pathological system of adaptation to stress is most often associated with extreme stress (e.g. catastrophes, cataclysms) or chronic stress (e.g. long-term imprisonment).
Before moving on to a detailed characteristics of the stress response, let’s consider a general model that takes into account both stress adaptation systems.
3.1 Stress response model
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