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PSYC 3390 (102)
Chapter 5

Abnormal Psychology Chapter 5

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PSYC 3390
Mary Manson

Chapter 5 11/6/2012 5:21:00 PM What is Stress? - We refer to adjustive demands as stressors—to the effects they create within an organism as stress and to efforts to deal with stress as coping strategies - The notion of stress can be broken down into eustress (positive stress) and distress (negative stress) - For example, stress experienced during a wedding wwould be eutstress, but during a funeral, distress - Adjustive demands, or stressors, stem from sources that fall into 3 basic categories: frustrations, conflcits and pressures - A wide range of obstacles, both external and internal, can lead to frustration - In many cases, stress results from the simultaneous occurrence of two or more incompatible needs or motives—conflicts with which every\one has to cope may be classified as approach-avoidance, double approach and double avoidance types - Approach-avoidance conflicts involve strong tendencies to approach and to avoid the same goal - Double-approach conflicts involve choosing between two or more desirable goals - Double-avoidance conflicts are those that involve choices between undesirable conflicts - The severity of stress is gauged by the degree to which is disrupts functioning - Pressures force us to speed up, redouble our effort or change the direction of goal-oriented behaviour, which can tax our coping resources or even lead to maladaptive behaviour - Pressures can originate from both external and internal sources - Occupational demands can be highly stressful and many jobs make severe demands in terms of responsibility, time and performance - The actual degree of disruption that occurs or threatens to occur depends partly on a stressors characteristics; partly on a persons resources, both personal and situational, for meeting the demands resulting from the stress; and partly on the relationship between the two - About a third of Canadian workers feel quite a bit or extremely stressed most days at work—shift workers, compared to regular schedule workers, were especially likely to regard their jobs as highly stressful - The symptoms of stress intensify when a person is more closely involved in a traumatic situation and when several stressors occur at the same time - Crisis refers to times when a stressful situation approaches or exceeds the adaptive capacities of a person or group—crises are often especially stressful because the stressors are so potent that the coping techniques we typically use do not work - Crisis intervention—providing psychological help in times of severe and special stress—has been widely used - The social readjustment rating scale is an objective method for measuring the cumulative stress to which a person has been exposed over a period of time—this scale measured life stress in terms of life chance units; the more stressful the event, the more LCUs assigned to it; at the high end of the scale there is death of a spouse at 100 LCUs and divorce at 73 LCUs and at the low end of the scale, vacation rates rates 13 LCUs and minor violations of the law rates at 11 LCUs - people with LCU rates of 300 or more for recent months are at significant risk of getting a major illness within the next two years - the Impact of Event Scale measures a persons reaction to a stressful situation by first identifying the stressor and then posing a series of questions to determine the sorts of stress-related symptoms that the person is experiencing - several criticisms have focused on the items selected for different scales; the subjectivity of the scoring, the failure to take into account the relevance of items for the populations studied, and the reliance on subjects memory of events—another limitation is that many of the life event scales measure chronic problems rather than reactions to specific environmental events; and depending on what mood the person is in, the scales rating of how stressful something is can vary - the Life Event and Difficult Schedule involves a semistructured interview that places the life event rating variables in a clearly defined context in order to increase interrater reliability - different reactions that people have to environmental events are due in part to the way they appraise the situation—the same event will be interpreted differently by different people: there is primary appraisal and secondary appraisal - children are especially vulnerable to severe stressors such as natural disasters, war and terrorism - people who are generally unsure of their adequacy and worth are much more likely to experience threat than those who feel generally confident and secure - stress tolerance refers to a persons ability to withstand stress without becoming seriously impaired - positive social and family relationships can moderate the effects of a stress on a person—the lack of external supports, either personal or material, can make a given stressor more potent and weaken a persons capacity to cope with it - in china, problems with interpersonal relationships were the most commonly reported stressors in daily life - some people create stress for themselves rather than coping—stressful situations might be related to or intensified by a persons beliefs or interpretations - on a biological level, there are immunological defences and damage repair mechanisms; on a psychological and interpersonal level, there are learned coping patterns, self defences and support from family and friends; on a sociocultural level, there are group resources such as labour unions, religious organizations and law enforcement agencies - in coping with stress, a person is confronted with meeting the requirements of the stressor and protecting himself from psychological or physical damage and disorganization - a task oriented response may involve making changes in ones self, ones surroundings or both depending on the situation - when a persons feelings of adequacy are seriously threatened by a stressor, a defence-oriented response tends to occur, aka behaviour is directed primarily at protecting onself from hurt and disorganization, rather than at resolving the situation - there are two common types of defence-oriented responses—the first consists of responses like crying, repetitive talking, and mourning that function as psychological damage repair mechanisms—the second type conists of te ego defense or self defense mechanisms including denial and repression The Effects of Severe Stress - lowering of adaptive functioning is referred to as personality or psychological decompensation - homeostatis and allostatis (the process of adaptation or achieveing stability through change) are important on the effects of stress - the frequent mobilization of these systems under stress is referred to as an allostatic load and it results in wear and tear on the body - the general adaptation syndrome views that the bodys reaction to sustained and excessive stress typically occurs in three major phases: alarm reaction, stage of restistance and exhaustion - when an organism is faced with danger, the sympathetic nervous system discharges adrenaline to prepare the organism for fight or flight as follows: the heart rate and blood flow to the large muscles increase to provide the organism with the capability of reacting to physical threats; the pupils dilate so that more light enters the eye; the skin constructs to limit blood loss in the event of injury; blood sugar increases to provide more ready energy - severe trauma and persistent stress can increase an individuals blood pressue so much that arteriosclerotic damage can occur in the heart and blood vessels, placing the individual at risk for hypertension, heart attack and stroke - stress can also act through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal glands to produce a serious endocrine imbalance that takes a major toll on a persons immune system—the hypothalamus releases hormones that stimulate the pituitary to release hormones that stimulate the pituitary to release other hormones that regulate many bodily functions, such as tissue and bone growth and reproduction - suppression of the immune system under chronic stress can have dire long range health consequences - psychoneuroimmunology focuses on the effects of stressors on the immune system—a lowered immune system response can mean that an individual is vulnerable to diseases as well as to major mental health problems like depression - personality decompensation: alarm and mobilization; first a persons resources for coping with a trauma are alerted and mobilized, typically involved at this stage are emotional arousal, increased tension, heightened sensitivity, greater alertness, and determined efforts at self control, the person also undertakes coping measures including task- oriented and defence oriented, maladjustment may appear, as well as tension, gastrointestinal upset or other bodily diseases and lower efficiency - resistance: if trauma continues, a person is often able to find means of dealing with it and maintains some adjustment to life; trauma resistance may be achieved temporarily by concerted, task-oriented coping measures, the use of egodefense mechanisms may be also intensified during this period; even in the resistance stage, indications of strain may exist - exhaustion: in the face of continued excessive trauma, a persons adaptive resources are depleted and the coping patterns called forth in the stage of resistance
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