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Some Issues in Research on Stressful Life Events

  • Barbara Snell Dohrenwend
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend

Abstract

We will start with a question: Do you believe that life stress can cause illness? If this question were included in a poll of either the general public or of concerned professionals, we would expect a nearly unanimous affirmative response; “nearly unanimous” only because if we asked a cross-section of the population whether they believed that the sun would rise tomorrow, probably someone would express doubt. At one time in human history, when belief in the rising of the sun was a matter of hope and faith, this doubt might have seemed reasonable. It no longer seems so because this daily event has long since become scientifically predictable. Can we say the same about the belief in the relation between life stress and illness? Is it firmly based on scientific evidence, or is it still a matter of faith? We will argue that at present the belief that life stress causes illness is based on faith bolstered by some scientific evidence. Given this argument, we will then describe the kind of work that seems to be needed in order to shift the balance to favor scientific evidence.

Keywords

Stressful Life Event Physical Illness Noxious Stimulus Psychosomatic Medicine Extreme Situation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Snell Dohrenwend
    • 1
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Sociomedical Sciences, School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Social Psychiatry Research Unit, Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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