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PSY240H5 (135)
Chapter 5

PSY240 - Ch. 5

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Ayesha Khan

CHAPTER 5: STRESS AND ADJUSTMENT DISORDERS WHAT IS STRESS? • stressors – refer to adjustive demands and the effect the create is called stress • Axis IV scale is particularly useful in relation to 3 Axis I categories: adjustment disorder, acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder Categories of Stressors • 3 categories – frustrations, conflicts and pressures Frustrations • a wide range of obstacles, both external and internal can lead to frustration • can stem from the env. – ex. death of a loved one, discrimination, etc. • can be based on personal limitations – ex. loneliness, physical handicaps, etc. • often leads to a self-devaluation, making one feel that he/she has failed in some way/is somehow incompetent Conflicts • often stress results from simultaneous occurrence of 2/more incompatible needs/motives • 3 types o approach-avoidance conflicts o double-approach conflicts o double-avoidance conflicts • various combos of the above are possible as well Pressure • pressures to achieve specific goals/to behave in particular ways • pressures force us to speed up, redouble our effort, or change the direction of goal- oriented behaviour, which can cause stress • can originate from external/internal sources Case Study – Dejected Premed Student • premed student received rejection letters • felt depressed • conflict – over what his next steps should be • pressure – from family and friends to try again • frustration over his failure  this shows that a situation can involve all 3 types of stressors Factors Predisposing a Person to Stress The Nature of the Stressor • the longer a stress occurs, the more severe its effects • stressors often appear to have a cumulative effect rd • research reveals that 1/3 of Canadian workers feel quite a bit/extremely stressed most days at work o shift workers more likely than regular schedule workers to regard their jobs as stressful • encountering several stressors at the same time as opposed to separately has a bigger impact • symptoms of stress intensify when a person is more closely involved in an immediately traumatic situation • study – of children’s symptoms and behaviour one month after a shooting in schoolyard o one child killed, several wounded o depending on where the children were during the shooting, they experienced diff. stress level (most severe for those closest and those who weren’t at school experienced no symptoms) The Experience of Crisis • crisis – refers to times when a stressful situation approaches/exceeds the adaptive capacities of a person/group o can occur as a result of:  natural disaster  aftermath of an injury/disease that forces difficult readjustments in a person’s self concept and way of life • outcome of such crises has a profound influence on a person’s subsequent adjustment o especially if crisis impairs person’s ability to cope b/c of an expectation of failure o unless the person has developed a new method of coping such as joining a support group • crisis intervention – providing psychological help in times of severe and special stress – has been widely used Life Changes • even pos. life changes can be stressful • Social Readjustment Rating Scale o objective way to measure cumulative stress that a person has been exposed to over time o measures life stress in terms of life change units (LCU) o death of a spouse = 100 LCU, divorce = 73 LCU, vacation = 13 LCU • criticism of life event scales in the assessment of stress due to o items selected for diff scales o subjectivity of scoring o failure to take into account relevance of items for the populations studied o reliance on subject’s memory of events o many of the scales measure chronic probs rather than reaction to specific events o mood can affect the scale’s rating of how stressful something is o do not provide useful info about specific types of disorders • another approach to the assessment of significant life events o Life Event and Difficulty Schedule  involves a semistructured interview  possible to assess the meaning of the event to the individual more direcly  labour intensive and costly  results considered more reliable than other life event approaches’ A Person’s Perception of the Stressor • diff ppl perceive (appraise) situations differently • 2 types of appraisals when evaluating environmental events o primary appraisal – is this a threat? o secondary appraisal – can I cope? • research shows that it is not simply poverty that is stressful but also who the person appraises the situation • often new adjustive demands that have not been anticipated (and for which no ready made coping strategies are available) will place a person under severe stress • understanding the nature of a stressful situation, preparing for it and knowing how long it will last all lessen the severity of the stress • perceiving some benefit from a disaster such as growing closer to your family because of a tragedy can moderate the effects of a trauma somewhat and make adjustment easier • some theorists have pointed out that trauma always leaves the person transformed in some way and that one nat
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