The scientist who coined “stress” wished he had chosen a different word for it


#TIA – There’s less about stress than meets the nervous system

“It’s hard to imagine a time when people were not stress-literate, so to speak.

These days, we routinely recognize the red flags of chronic stress on the body—the fatigue, the low moods, the headaches, and frequent illnesses—if not in ourselves than in others. We remind friends or family or colleagues who appear to be marching toward a tipping point, at which stress unravels into long-term burnout, that shouldering too much can have physiological consequences.

But the biological concept of stress, or the stress response, was not popularized until the 1950s, although its quiet medical debut occurred in 1936, in the science journal Nature, under a different name, “A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents.” Hans Selye, the late Hungarian-Canadian endocrinologist and so-called “father of stress,” described in Nature his work with lab rats in Montreal, where he had determined that any stimulant, or stress, would trigger the same chain reaction. Disease didn’t kill the rats, he found, but stress did. He made the accidental discovery while conducting research into ovarian hormones.”

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