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Chapter 12

Chapter 12.docx

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PSYC 3110
Kieran O' Doherty

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Chapter 12- Stress and Coping What is stress? - Stress ambiguous term, sometimes used to refer to the environmental pressure and sometimes to a particular type of response to pressure - Thought to be a principle cause of psychological distress and physical illness - Ability to cope with stress is frequently held to be the key to happiness - Stress is categorized in three ways (not mutually exclusive): - 1. Stimulus based - Ex. When you are under a lot of pressure - This views stress as something that gets put upon you by something else (a stimulus) - Which causes a force (strain) - This causes damage when your capacity for this strain is exceeded - Associated with approaches to stress management - 2. Response based - Ex. The feeling of being “stressed out” - Based on the physical and psychological feeling - Symptoms include: anxiety, poor concentration, insomnia, bodily tension and fatigue - Links stress to physical illness - Focuses on stress management using techniques such as, breathing exercises, yoga, etc. - 3. Interactional - Ex. When you think that you can’t cope with things - Stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the perceived demands placed on an individual and the ability to meet those demands (coping resources) - An advantage of this theory over the other two is that it takes into account that people differ in what they find stressful and how they respond to it - Coping techniques are aimed helping the individual overcome stress by increasing the effectiveness of their coping strategies - Stress management workshops training programmes in stress management usually delivered to groups, frequently lasting for a whole day or weekend and focusing on changing the way in which participants appraise situations as stressful and cope with stressful events - Stress inoculation training a self-instructional cognitive-behavioural method for stress management focusing on changing the way in which participants appraise situations as stressful and cope with stressful events Stimulus-Based Perspectives and Life Event Scales (see page 271 for the scales): - Holmes and Rahe: - Social readjustment rating scale measurement scale for life events stress - Widely used in research on life events stress and illness - Disadvantage of this scale is that many of the events occur very rarely in anyone’s life - Kanner et al: - Hassles scale consists of everyday events that cause annoyance and frustration - Disadvantage of this scale is that the events seem arbitrary, vague and more likely to assess someone’s level of neuroticism rather than stress - This can make peoples reports very different - Uplifts scale consists of events that make people feel good - The hassles scale is most widely used - A lot of the research done linking stress to physical illness was done in retrospective studies (after the onset of illness) - This has been criticized because people who have been recently ill are more likely to recollect and report recent stressful events to a greater extent than control group individuals who remained well - Recently researchers are starting to move away from standardized checklists to evaluate stress - Instead structured interviews are conducted - Brown and Harris: - Life events and difficulties schedule (LEDS) a psychological measurement of the stressfulness of life events Response-Based Perspectives and the Physiology of Stress: - Since people differ in what they find stressful its helpful to identify a characteristic stress response that occurs whatever the nature of the stress is - Research on the physiology of stress originates from work on homeostasis - Walter Cannon: - Homeostasis our body’s feedback system that helps it maintain a steady state - Anything that disrupts this inner equilibrium may be regarded as stressful - Hans Selye: - Generalized Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) three stage model of the physiological response to stress (no longer thought to be valid) - Occurs whenever the body defends itself against noxious stimuli - Consists of three stages: - 1. Alarm stage: the body’s defences are mobilized - 2. Resistance stage: the body adapts to the cause of the stress - 3. Exhaustion stage: the body’s capacity to resist finally breaks down - Criticisms: - The body’s reaction to different types of stress is not uniform at all - The common physiological reactions are based on the emotion reactions to the stressful event rather that to a direct physiological effect Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI): - The effects of stress on the immune system - The immune system is the body’s defences against all infectious disease - If psychological factors effect this system then it’s possible psychological interventions could play an important role in treatment - Cortisol a corticosteroid hormone produced by the adrenal cortex, a part of the adrenal gland - It is released in
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