Confusion and controversy in the stress field

J Human Stress. 1975 Jun;1(2):37-44. doi: 10.1080/0097840X.1975.9940406.


An attempt is made to further clarify present areas of controversy in the stress field, in response to a two-part article by Dr. John W. Mason which concludes in this issue of the Journal of Human Stress. The author tries to elucidate each source of confusion enumerated by Dr. Mason. The continued use of the word "stress" for the nonspecific response to any demand is deemed most desirable. The once vague term can now be applied in a well-defined sense and is accepted in all foreign languages as well, including those in which no such word existed previously in any sense. Subdivision of the stress concept has become necessary as more recent work has led to such notions as "eustress," "distress," "systemic stress" and "local stress." Confusion between stress as both an agent and a result can be avoided only by the distinction between "stress" and "stressor". It is explained that the stress syndrome is--by definition--nonspecific in its causation. However, depending upon conditioning factors, which can selectively influence the reactivity of certain organs, the same stressor can elicit different manifestations in different individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior / physiology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior