two personality types: repressors (deny feelings; "Forget about it; it's
in the doctor's hands") and sensitizers (open to feelings; "What are the
risks? I'm scared. Will it hurt a lot?").
One group of patients was shown an informative film about the
medical procedure; a second group saw the same film three times. A
third group didn't see it at all. There were repressors and sensitizers in
all three groups. The results? The sensitizers were quite anxious if they
hadn't seen the film, but the more they saw it the less stressed they
became. Thus, for sensitizers it is helpful to have a realistic, detailed
view of what will happen and to know the hazards as well as the help
and support available. But what about the repressors who start out
"dumb and happy?" Without the film, they are much more relaxed
during the painful medical operation than the sensitizers, but with one
prior viewing of the film, their heart rate during the operation was very
high, considerably higher than even the unprepared sensitizers.
However, if repressors had seen the film three times, they were fairly
relaxed during the medical procedure. Thus, some people--repressors-
-need to deny and avoid and think of other things or have lots of
advanced warning, information, practice, reassurance and support in
preparing for a stressful event.
You should note two things: (l) this study involves a rare event--a
life-endangering time when someone else is in control of your life.
There is little you can do except try to keep your panic under control.
(2) This study involves only one personality factor from among
hundreds and only one approach to allaying fears from among
hundreds. But it illustrates the complex kind of information you and I
need to run our lives most effectively. We need more scientific
knowledge, and a willingness to learn and use that knowledge in our
The negative effects or consequences of stress and anxiety
Several unpleasant emotional feelings are generated--tension,
feelings of inadequacy, depression, anger, dependency and
Preoccupation is with real or often exaggerated troubles--
worries, concerns about physical health, obsessions,
compulsions, jealousy, suspiciousness, fears, and phobias.
Most emotional disorders are related to stress; they either are
caused by stress and/or cause it or both. This includes the
concerns mentioned in 1 & 2 and the many psychological
disorders described in an Abnormal Psychology textbook.
Interpersonal problems can be a cause or an effect of stress--
feeling pressured or trapped, irritability, fear of intimacy, sexual
problems, feeling lonely, struggling for control, and others.
Feeling tired is common--stress saps our energy.
Many bad habits (e.g. procrastination, see chapter 4) and much
wasted time are attempts to handle anxiety. They may help
relieve anxiety temporarily but we pay a high price in the long