Psychological Self-Help

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expectations, faulty thinking, scary fantasies, and negative self-
concept) and unconscious processes (internal wars between parts of
our personality and glimpses of taboo urges). We'll cover these in the
next two major sections. 
Prolonged and Intense Stress 
Early research on psychological stress focused on extreme
conditions: combat, concentration camps, nuclear accidents, loss of
loved ones, and serious injury. Or, focus was on extreme responses to
stress: psychosis, incapacitating anxiety, bleeding ulcers, high blood
pressure, heart conditions, etc., which become stressful conditions
themselves. Fortunately, most of us don't have to deal with such
serious conditions, but we all have some stress. 
Later research has studied the impact of stress on work and skills
or on morale. To some extent, mild to moderate anxiety increases our
performance, especially on simple, easy tasks that we know well. Of
course, intense stress usually screws everything up; however, some
people "keep their cool" responding to failure or a serious challenge
with more determination and effort, and doing better. Most of us get
"nervous" and clutch up or give up, especially if the task is very
It is common to assume that men are more "bothered" by
problems at work, while women are more troubled by problems with
the children or by marital conflicts. But, if women work full-time
outside the home, they are as stressed by problems at their work as
men are. Likewise, men are as disturbed by difficulties with the
children as women are. The emotional reactions to marital problems
are complex: men and women are in general equally concerned about
their marriages. However, when wives are securely employed and
financially independent, men are more concerned with marital
problems than women are. If women are economically dependent,
they are more troubled by marital conflicts. Actually, your level of
concern about your marriage depends on your commitment to and
your dependence on the marriage. Other studies suggest that males
and females tend to react differently to certain stresses, e.g. men and
women respond about equally to a storm, like a hurricane, but women
respond more intensely than men to a nasty family fight (Adler, 1993).
We are learning new things about our reaction to stress all the time;
there is a lot more to discover. 
General Adaptation Syndrome--GAS
Almost 50 years ago a young physician, Hans Selye (1974),
noticed that sick people often had a series of symptoms, no matter
what was wrong. He called it "the syndrome of just being sick." It
seems to be the body's way of defending itself against attack by
disease or stress of any kind. Three stages are involved in what is now
called the general adaptation syndrome or GAS. First, is the alarm
stage: the body responds with panic--a "fight or flight" reaction. The
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