Reinventing the Stress Concept


Social Work and Human Services

Document Type


Publication Date



Studies that attempt to models stress have been limited by the ambiguity surrounding the stress concept. To address this conceptual lacuna, this article proposes a new approach to conceptualizing stress. Through a historical survey of ideas relating to stress, clarity will be brought to the conception of stress through a synthesis of insights on the nature of stress arousal, particularly focusing on the dynamic of generation of stress in the mind. Stress, resulting from both positively and negatively appraised events, is experienced in proportion to the certainty with which we assess an impact to something to which we have attachment (Sanskrit, upãdãna ), whether physical or ideological. Ultimately, this ancient conception of the psychological dynamic of stress has borne fruit in philosophy, religion, and psychotherapy, making it a sound candidate for a fundamental psychological conception of stress.