Stress and health

  • Peter Harvey


If you are feeling under pressure, are you more likely to develop ‘flu? If your mood is low and you are run-down, is your resistance to infection lowered? Are people who lead stressful lives more likely to die prematurely? For most people, the answer to these questions is probably ‘yes’. The idea that our psychological and emotional state can influence our susceptibility to diseases and our ability to deal with illness is a belief commonly held by both health care professionals and ‘the educated layman’. However, it is only relatively recently that there has been a growth in the empirical data and theoretical interest in this area, although historically the idea can be traced to some of the earliest medical thinkers. It is the purpose of this chapter to review briefly some of the current work directly concerned with human health and stress, and to draw out one or two key themes and issues using the relationship of stress and cancer as an example. I make no pretensions to a comprehensive review of the available literature as there are a number of these already available and these will be referred to at the appropriate points in the text.


Behavioural Medicine Psychosomatic Medicine Marital Quality Cold Pressor Test Immune Functioning 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1989

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  • Peter Harvey

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