Notebook, 1993-

Return to - Notes for a Perspective on Art Education -- NOTES on Child Development

Notes from: Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989.

The Brain, Biology, and Behavior - Sensation & reality - Perceiving the World - States of Consciousness

Conditioning & Learning - Cognition & Creativity - Artificial Intelligence - Enhancing Creativity

Emotion - Health, Stress & Coping - ANS Effects

Theories of Personality - Dimensions of Personality - From Birth to Death - Child Development

Health, Stress & Coping

Stress occurs anytime we must adjust or adapt to the environment. Whenever a challenge or a threat forces a person to adjust or adapt --and ultimately depends on how a situation is perceived. To know if a person is stressed, we must know what meaning the person places on events. Work pressures, travel, marital problems, sports, a new job, financial troubles, mountain climbing, dating, and other pleasant activities --all produce stress. It is a normal part of life. When it is severe or prolonged, it can do tremendous damage to one's health.

"To be totally without stress is to be dead." (Hans Selye, 1976)

A healthy lifestyle includes a fair amount of stress.

Body's stress reaction. Begins with ANS arousal. Short-term stresses of this sort rarely do any damage, however uncomfortable.


The unpredictable nature of one's work, for example. And, when activities must be speeded up due to deadlines, when extra work is added unexpectantly, or when a person must work near maximum capacity for long periods. And, more stress is felt in situations over which one has little control. Chronic stress at work can cause burnout. [Emotional "shocks" that are intense, repeated, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and linked to pressure --the stress will be magnified and damage is likely to result.]

Stressors appraised as a threat - What do we think and tell ourselves about stressors?

Frustration is a negative emotional state that occurs when one is prevented from reaching a goal. One of many causes of stress. It is not the same as anger. Caused by obstacles of many kinds. As the strength, urgency, or importance of a blocked motive increases, frustration increases. Motivation becomes stronger as we near a goal, at which point frustration can become more intense. Effects of repeated frustrations can accumulate until a small irritation sets off an unexpectedly violent response --the straw that broke the camels back. There are external and personal sources of frustration.

[Getting through or around a barrier]

Persistence. To get around a barrier, to reach a goal. Can be very adaptive. Characterized by more vigorous efforts more variable responses

Escape or Withdrawal. May mean actually leaving a source of frustration (dropping out of school, quitting a job, leaving a marriage), or psychologically escaping (apathy, pretending not to care, or use of drugs)

Aggression. Most persistent and frequent response to frustration, but it is not the first or only reaction. Direct aggression is disruptive and generally discouraged - so - frequently displaced or redirected to whomever or whatever, rather than at boss or teacher...

Conflict occurs whenever a person must choose between incompatible or contradictory needs, desires, motives, wishes, or external demands. (Choices such as college/work, marriage/single life, study/failure, etc..)

4 Basic forms of conflict:
1. APPROACH-APPROACH - Choose between 2 positive or desirable alternatives. Easiest conflict to resolve.

2. AVOIDANCE-AVOIDANCE - Choose between 2 negative or undesirable alternatives. Caught between "the frying pan and the fire." (dentist/tooth decay, study/failure, etc.) Not choosing may be impossible or equally undersirable. Difficult to resolve.

3. APPROACH- AVOIDANCE - Caught by being attracted to and repelled by the same goal or activity. Kept there by attraction, but negative aspects cause turmoil and distress. (Wanting to eat/overweight, Wanting a car/not wanting to make monthly payments, Wanting to be actor/stage fright, Making marriage plans/parents disapprove of partner, etc.)

4. DOUBLE APPROACH-AVOIDANCE - Each alternative has positive and negative qualities. Neither completely positive nor completely negative alternatives. More realistic. People in conflict are usually faced with several dilemmas at once, so several types of conflict are intermingled. Rarely clear-cut.

Life Change Units (LCUs) - effect of life events. Not foolproof, and some studies fail to confirm its value. Dr. Thomas Holmes at Univ. of Washington confirmed that stressful events can reduce the body's natural defenses against disease. Stress, therefore, can increase the likelihood of illness. Disaster and sorrow often precede illness. Any major change in one's life (positive as well as negative) requires adjustment and may increase susceptibility to accidents and illness.

Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) A rating of the contribution of significant life events to susceptibility to illness.

Hassles (microstressors) Minor but frequent stresses. Major life changes often create a kind of "ripple effect." Countless daily frustrations and irritations spring from the original event.

Psychosomatic Disorders (psyche: mind; soma; body) Psychological factors are associated with actual damage to tissues of the body. (gastrointestinal and respiratory problems- ulcers and asthma; eczema or skin rash, hives, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension or high blood pressure, colitis or ulceration of the colon, and heart disease are the major problems. Also muscle tension, headaches, neckaches, backaches, indigestion, constipation, fatigue, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction) It is estimated that at least half of all patients who see a doctor have a psychosomatic disorder or an illness that is complicated by psychosomatic symptoms.) Stress is not the sole cause. Also hereditary, specific organ weaknesses, learned reactions to stress, personality.

General adaptation syndrome (G.A.S.)
Hans Selye, Canadian physiologist, notes that the first symptoms of almost any disease or trauma (poisoning, infection, injury, or stress) are almost identical. Body responds in the same way to any stress, be it infection, failure, embarrassment, adjustment to a new job, trouble at school, or a stormy romance. G.A.S. consists of 3 stages:

Immune system - Body's immune system is regulated, in part, by the brain. Because of this link, stress, upsetting thoughts, and emotions may affect the immune system in ways that increase susceptibility to disease. [Suppression of immune system response in rats given inescapable shocks --an effect not shown in rats given escapable shocks. Immune system weakened in students during stressful major exam times, etc.]

Use of psychological principles to promote health and prevent illness . . . . Almost 50% of all deaths in US primarily due to unhealthy behavior or lifestyles. Health psychology aims to do something about it.

Behavioral medicine. Psychologists apply psychological knowledge to medical problems. Their interests include the control of pain, adjustment to chronic illness, adherence to doctors' instructions, psychosomatic disease, and similar topics.

Behavioral risk factors - increase the chances of accident, disease, and early death:

Lifestyle - Risk factors make a difference (they add up)

Basic Health-Promoting Behaviors

Community health campaigns. Education projects designed to lessen a combination of major risk factors. Smoking has been called the largest preventable cause of death in the U.S. The single most lethal behavior risk factor.

[Notes from: Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989.]



The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only. The contents of this site may not be reproduced in any form without proper reference to Text, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication [and page #s when suitable].