December 1982

Duress Without Stress

Author Affiliations

Department of English University of Rochester Rochester, NY 14627

Am J Dis Child. 1982;136(12):1102. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1982.03970480068024

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There was a time when only Gothic arches, steel girders, and synthetic fabrics were subject to stress. Then prime ministers and presidents fell prey and, after them, the rest of the world's population. Nowadays, even goldfish are neurotic, and cats have psychiatrists to help them cope with the stress of stalking a mouse. It's only a matter of weeks before mice have their psychological experts in rodential duress.

Once stress became a fashionable ailment, Dr Hans Selye made it medically respectable by studying the effects of stress on people, biologically and emotionally, and publishing his book, Stress Without Distress. After years of measuring blood pressures and levels of adrenaline, Dr Selye told the waiting world that life is stress (which was hardly news to most of us) and that stress is good for us. Only when we are distressed by life's challenges and become paralyzed by fear and anxiety

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