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Chapter 5

Psyc3390 Partial Detailed Chapter 5 summary.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3390
Mary Manson

Chapter 5 Stress and Adjustment Disorders  Stress is a by-product of poor or inadequate coping.  Eustress is positive stress (wedding)/ Distress is negative stress (funeral)  Distress typically has the potential to do more damage  Relationship between stress and psychopathology are very substantial… to the point where the role of stressors in symptom development is now formally emphasized in diagnostic formulations. For example, Axis IV from the DSM-IV-TR specifies the specific psychosocial stressors a person faces  Axis IV scale is particularly useful in relation to three AXIS I categories: adjustment disorder, acute stress disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Categories of Stressors  Adjustive demands, or stressors, stem from sources that fall into three basic categories: (1) frustrations, (2) conflicts, and (3) pressures. o Frustrations: Can stem from environmental and personal limitations. They can be particularly difficult for a person to cope with because they often lead to self-devaluation, making the person feel that she or he has failed in some way or is somehow incompetent. o Conflicts: stress can result from the simultaneous occurrence of two or more incompatible needs or motives: The requirements of one preclude satisfaction of the others. An example is a woman who is committed to a career is required to relocate however, she does not want to uproot her family. Conflicts with which everyone has to cope with may be classified as approach-avoidance, double approach, and double-avoidance types. Classifying conflicts in this manner is somewhat arbitrary and often times, there are various combinations rather than just a single type of conflict. o Pressures: stress can also stem from pressures to achieve specific goals or to behave in particular ways. 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. For example, students feeling the need to do well because their parents want them to (external), or they want to do well because they want to get into graduate school (internal). Factors Predisposing a Person to Stress  The severity of stress is gauged by the degree to which it disrupts functioning. The actual degree of disruption that occurs or threatens to occur depends partly on a stressor’s characteristics; partly on a person’s resources, both personal and situational, for meeting the demands resulting from the stress; and partly on the relationship between the two. This happens due to the fact that no two people face the same types of stressors in the exact same way and also, because people perceive and interpret similar situations differently. Some people could be more resilient as a result of personality characteristics and background experiences. o The nature of the stressor:  Stressors that involve important aspects of life – such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or a serious illness – tend to be highly stressful for most people  Furthermore, the longer a stressor operates, the more sever its effects  Also, stressors often appear to have a cumulative effect.  Some key stressors in a person’s life center on a continuing difficult life situation… these are considered chronic, or long lasting. Research conducted by Statistics Canada reveals that 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 job as highly stressful  Encountering several stressors at the same time also results in the stress being higher than if the events had occurred separately  Finally, the symptoms of stress intensify when a person is more closely involved in an immediately traumatic situation. Pynoos and colleagues (1987) conducted an extensive investigation of children symptom’s and behaviour one month after a shooting incident in a schoolyard (one child killed, several other wounded when a sniper randomly fired into a playground). Depending on where they were at he time of the shooting – on the playground, in the school, in the neighbourhood, on the way home, absent from school, or out of the vicinity – the children experiences different stress levels. Children on the playground (closest to the shooting), had the most severe symptoms, whereas children who were not at school during the shooting experienced no symptoms. o The experience of the crisis:  Most of us experience periods of especially acute 9sudden and intense) stress. The term 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 are no longer effective  Stress can be distinguished from crisis in this way: a traumatic situation or crisis, overwhelms a person’s ability to cope, whereas lesser stressors do not necessarily overwhelm the person  Crisis or trauma can occur due to natural disasters, or the aftermath of an injury or disease that forces difficult readjustment in a person’s self-concept and way of life  Outcomes of such crises have a profound influence on person’s subsequent adjustment. If it leads to a person developing an effective new method of coping – perhaps joining a support group or accepting help from friends – then he or she may emerge even better adjusted than before  However, if the crisis impairs the person’s ability to cope with similar stressors in the future because of the expectation of failure, then his or her overall adjustment will suffer.  For this reason, crisis intervention – providing psychological help in times of severe and special stress- has been widely used o Life Changes:  Life changes (even positive ones) place new demands on us and thus, can be stressful. Our psychosocial environment can play a huge role in causing disorders or precipitating their onset, even in strongly biological disorders such as bipolar disorder.  Faster the change, greater the stress  In study by Holmes and Rahe (1967), they developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, an objective method for measuring the cumulative stress to which a person has been exposed over a period of time. This scale measures life stresses in terms of life change units (LCU). More stressful the event, the more LCUs assigned to it. At the high end of the scale, “death of a spouse” rates 100 LCUs and “divorce” rates 73 LCUs; at the low end of the scale, “vacation” rates 13 LCU and “minor violations of the law” rates 11 LCU. It was found that people with LCU scores of 300 o
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