12-stress - Stress So what is stress anyway Defining stress...

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Stress. So, what is stress, anyway?
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“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material [pornography] . . . but I know it when I see it.” US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, 1964 Defining stress is somewhat like trying to define pornography.
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Physiologists make the distinction between a stressor and the stress response. A stressor is anything that disturbs physiological balance. It can be a physical insult, like being bitten by a dog, or a psychological insult, like a growling dog – or even worrying that a dog might growl at you. The stress response is the body’s physiological adapta- tions used to cope with the stressor.
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So we’ll admit that we can’t come up with a rigorous definition of stress – although we each know it when we see it. Instead, we’ll talk about the stress response and how that affects us.
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This way of thinking of stress is derived from the physio- logical concept of homeostasis (Claude Bernard, 1865) Homeostasis is the process by which the body maintains a constant internal environment. Examples include things like blood glucose, body temperature, intra- and extracellular fluid volumes, blood pH, etc . So when physical or psychological stressors throw the body out of whack, the stress response is an attempt to restore homeostasis.
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There are many physiological responses to stressors. They are pretty much the same, regardless of the nature of the stressor, for example: Chasing after prey. Being chased by a predator. Worrying about being chased by a predator. Their purpose is to prepare the body for ‘fight or flight.’ 1. Increased mobilization of metabolic fuels for energy. 2. Increased oxygen supply so fuels can be oxidized. 3. Faster delivery of fuels an oxygen to where they’re needed. 4. Inhibition of anything that interferes with any of the above.
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A hallmark of the stress response is an activation of the adrenal glands – both the cortex and the medulla. This fact has led to some confusion, because it became a circular definition . Release of corticosterone (or cortisol) from the cortex. Release of epinephrine from the medulla. Glucocorticoids and epinephrine are commonly referred to as “stress hormones”
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Meaning: The definition includes the term being defined as a part of the definition. Circular definition. A book is pornographic if and only if it contains pornography. (We would need to know what pornography is in order to tell whether a book is pornographic.) Examples: An animal is human if and only if it has human parents. (The term being defined is “human”. But in order to find a human, we would need to find human parents. To find human parents we would already need to know what a human is.) You are experiencing stress if you release stress hormones.
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  • Spring '08
  • GeorgeWade
  • Cortisol

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