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June 1992

Evolutionary Biology and Life-Events Research

Author Affiliations

Cattedra di Psichiatria Università di Roma "Tor Vergata" via Guattani, 14 00161 Roma, Italy
Los Angeles, Calif

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1992;49(6):501-502. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820060081014

To the Editor.—  Methodologic issues that have been debated in life-events research include the reliability of retrospective reporting, the exclusion of events that may be consequences of disorders, and the quantification of stress.1A far more fundamental methodologic problem concerns the choice of criteria for identifying events that have little or no stressful impact. Contemporary researchers do not agree on which life events are most representative and meaningful in a person's life.2 Consequently, the psychiatric assessment of stressful experiences, be these either specific events or repeating circumstances, has been guided primarily by common sense. For example, DSM-III-R states: "The rating of the severity of the stressor should be based on the clinician's assessment of the stress an 'average' person in similar circumstances and with similar sociocultural values would experience."3The lack of valid criteria for deciding which life experiences are likely to have stressful impacts complicates the interpretation of data

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