Adjustment Reactions

  • Stella Chess
  • Mahin Hassibi


The term adjustment reaction denotes a combination of the stress response and compensatory adaptive mechanisms that characterize the behavior of an individual who experiences disruptive life events, usually of an unpleasant nature. While the initial impact of stress per se is expected to decrease with the passage of time, the coping mechanisms employed to reestablish the previous internal and external equilibrium may become incorporated into the structure of personality and be resistant to further modification. An acute situational reaction is the transient outcome of the interplay between the severity of the disruptive elements and the child’s intellectual level and emotional maturity at the time. To a large extent, the child’s cognitive stage determines his perception of stress, while the nature of his response is dependent upon the level of behavioral organization that he has achieved. For example, in very young infants, hospitalization or surgical procedures may be tolerated without any observable behavioral changes; or their disruptive influence may be manifested in such areas as the patterning of the biological functions of sleep, feeding, and elimination.


Child Psychiatrist Emotional Maturity Adjustment Reaction Behavioral Organization Time Minor Modification 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stella Chess
    • 1
  • Mahin Hassibi
    • 2
  1. 1.New York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.New York Medical CollegeValhallaUSA

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