Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Stress

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_301

Introduction

Ideas about what is stressful, the toll stress takes on body and mind, and how to manage stress seem omnipresent in the West, particularly in the USA. Stress is a protean concept that can represent a situation or event, a psychological or physiological state, or an emotion, and this diffuseness gives it great versatility as a vehicle for explaining human dilemmas. Contemporary ideas about stress hearken back to the nineteenth century when George Beard (1881), the “father” of neurasthenia, made an alarming connection between the pressures of middle-class life and nervous illness, insisting that the amount and character of the stress Americans experienced was exceptional (Gosling, 1987).

Definition

Centuries ago, stress stood for what was difficult and had to be suffered. The image was often that of a ship tossed about by the stress of bad weather, neither challenging the forces outside it nor wholly separate from them (Kugelmann, 1992). Facing stress demanded strength and...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social ResearchBryn Mawr CollegeBryn MawrUSA