Stress: A Brief History / Edition 1

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Stress: A Brief History is a lively, accessible, and detailed examination of the origins of the field of stress research.

  • First concise, accessible, academically grounded book on the origins of the concept of stress.
  • Explores different theories and models of stress such as the psychosomatic approach, homeostasis, and general adaptation syndrome.
  • Discusses the work and intriguing contributions of key researchers in the field such as Walter Cannon, Hans Selye, Harold Wolff, and Richard Lazarus.
  • Explains the origins of key concepts in stress such as stressful life events, the coronary-prone personality, and appraisals and coping.
  • Culminates in a discussion of what makes a good theory and what obligations stress researchers have to those whose working lives they study.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mental health problems and stress-related disorders are often the cause of early death. Cary Cooper's and Philip Dewe's book is a fascinating and highly readable account of the long and difficult journey to this insight. I recommend it strongly." Lennart Levi, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Division of Stress Research, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

"an informative and concise summary of landmarks in the history of stress research, with themes originating from over a hundred years of contributions to the field ... this book carries more than enough information for one to appreciate the origins of an exciting and necessary field." Andi Yi-An Shih, Ph.D. Candidate, University of British Colombia. Stress and Health, 20, 239-40, 2004

"This must be the definitive book on the history of stress, written by specialists in organisational psychology and behaviour...Work stress is given a chapter on its own , and the conclusion asks what we mean by stress and how research on the topic can be pursued." Scientific and Medical Network Review, Summer 2005

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cary L. Cooper is Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the Manchester School of Management. He is the author of over 100 books, as well as senior co-editor of the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management (12 volumes, with Chris Argyris). He has been an advisor to the World Health Organisation, two UN bodies, and the International Labor Organisation.

Philip Dewe is Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Head of the Organizational Psychology Department at Birkbeck College. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Organizational Stress (with Cary L. Cooper and Michael P. O’Driscoll, 2001) and Coping, Health and Organisations (edited with Tom Cox and Michael Leiter, 2000).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments x
Chapter 1 From Early Beginnings to the Twentieth Century 1
Introduction 1
Hooke's Law and the Engineering Analogy 3
The Eighteenth Century and Beyond 4
Summary: Themes from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries 7
Chapter 2 The Twentieth Century: The Early Years 9
Introduction 9
The Emergence of the School of Functionalism 10
Fatigue and Mental Hygiene 11
Psychosomatic Medicine and the Contribution of Walter Cannon 13
Hans Selye 20
The Work of Harold Wolff 33
Summary 36
Chapter 3 The Twentieth Century: From the 1950s to Richard Lazarus 39
Introduction: Stress in the 1950s and 1960s 39
Stressful Life Events 41
The Social Readjustment Scale 43
Daily Hassles and Uplifts and the Debate that Followed 46
The Debate: Critical Life Events versus Hassles and Uplifts 47
Personality and Type A Behavior Patterns 51
Towards the Study of Individual Differences 55
A Return to the 1950s and 1960s and a Change in Focus 57
The History of Stress in Sweden 60
The Origins of Organizational Psychology 62
Summary 65
Chapter 4 The Work of Richard Lazarus 67
Introduction 67
The Beginnings 68
The Berkeley Stress and Coping Project 69
A Historical Look at Appraisal 71
The Nature of Appraisals and the Debate that Followed 74
Lazarus and the Process View of Coping 78
Ways of Coping Questionnaire 79
Lazarus and Emotions 82
Summary 83
Chapter 5 Work Stress and Occupational Health Psychology 85
Introduction 85
Work Stress 85
Role Conflict, Role Ambiguity, and the Search for Causes of Work Stress 87
Beyond Role Conflict, Ambiguity, and Overload 90
Early Research Frameworks and Identifying Strains 92
Towards and Integrated Model of Work Stress 94
Work Stress and Coping 98
From Coping to the Self-Help Years to Stress Management 102
Occupational Health Psychology 107
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 108
Summary 109
Chapter 6 What do We Mean by Stress: From the Past to the Future 110
Introduction 110
What Do We Mean By Stress? 110
From the Past to the Future 113
How Does History Add to Our Understanding of Stress 114
Searching for the Organizing Concept of the Future 115
Distinguishing between Description and Meaning 116
Why Study Stress? Fulfilling Our Moral Responsibility 117
Summary 118
References 120
Index 137
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