CHAPTER 12, WHY IS PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS STRESSFUL?
I. Bioengineering: Input-output relationships
A. Blood pressure, hypoglycemia, etc.: amazingly accurate controls
B. Selye & crew: Some physiological mechanisms respond similarly to hot and cold and injury, etc.
C. But response to pain inputs can be modified by the environment
D. John Mason: “All stress-responses are psychological stress-responses.” (Rabble of psychologists muddying up the picture!”)
1. Food deprivation experiment
2. Psychological stress alone can à stress response
E. Hans Selye: Not ONLY psychological: Even anesthetized animal shows stress response to surgery.
II. Psychological stressors
A. Jay Weiss: Rats’ outlets for frustration:
1. Gnaw on wood
2. Displaced aggression: both rats and humans: “He doesn’t get ulcers, he gives them.”
B. Social support networks
1. But stressor is worse if you’re among strangers, rather than friends
2. Baboons: low ranking males have high glucocorticoid levels
3. Entire group: high glucocorticoids in unstable hierarchy or with new aggressive male
4. Low ranking males: less stress if they play with kids or groom females
5. Humans: various stressors w/ or w/o a friend present: friend lowered cardiovascular stress R.
6. Humans: stepchildren have higher glucocorticoids than biological children.
7. Socially isolated people: overly active symp. N.S. à inc. BP, platelet aggregation, & heart disease à die at a younger age. (2 to 5 times more likely to die of heart disease)
8. Type A w/ TV crew
1. Warning signal: 2 pieces of info
2. Familiarity of stressor reduces stress response
3. Norwegian military parachute training
4. Rats: intermittent, changed to random, food reinforcement (loss of predictability à stress R)
5. Stress-related disease sometimes HIGHER among people with lower rate of stressors (Blitzkrieg: more ulcers in suburbs)
6. People on death row with uncertainty: Gary Gilmore: relief after all appeals were exhausted.
1. Rats that have learned to bar press to avoid shocks: take away the bar à ulcers or cancer growth
2. It helps even if you THINK you have control, but don’t. People with noise stressors: hypertension
3. Airplanes safer than cars, but less control
4. Controlling rewards better than getting them for free: pigeons, rats, children of very rich parents
1. Novel cage à increased arousal and vigilance à decreased immune response
F. Things getting worse vs. better
1. Rats: 10 or 50 shocks/hr à 25/hr: Which is more stressed?
2. Baboons: males of similar rank, but one is dropping and one is rising in hierarchy: only the former à high glucocorticoid levels
3. Parents of children with cancer: 1 in 4 risk of dying: seemed better than previous risk.
III. Some subtleties of predictability
A. How predictable is the stressor in the absence of a warning?
1. Meteor going to crush your car today, but not the rest of the year.
2. Driving to work is going to be stressful.
B. How far in advance does the warning come? Doesn’t help just before or a long time before the event.
C. Vague information: doesn’t help and may increase stress.
D. If stressor is terrible enough: warning doesn’t help.
IV. Internal stragegies for coping
A. Humans vs. rats.: predictability affects stress response DURING stressor, not just knowing when to relax.
V. Subtleties of control
A. Inappropriate sense of control in the face of awful events
1. Comforting words: You couldn’t have helped anyway.
2. Brutally callous: She was asking for it. It’s your fault your child is schizophrenic. If minorities had assimilated better, they wouldn’t be persecuted.
3. Moderate stressor: It helps to have artificial sense of control: It could have been worse.
4. Awful stressor: artificial sense of control makes things worse. (internal sense of control)
B. Joseph Brady: “executive” monkeys
1. Control and predictability were bad news. (“Executives” had to remember to press a lever every few minutes for 6 hours to avoid shocks.
2. Animals were not randomly assigned.