Cover image for The end of stress as we know it
The end of stress as we know it
McEwen, Bruce S.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Dana Press/Joseph Henry Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 239 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
A new way to look at stress -- The stress response--or how we cope -- Stress and the emotional connection -- Allostatic load: when protection gives way to damage -- Stress and the cardiovascular system -- Stress and the immune system -- Stress and the brain -- How not to be stressed out -- Positive health -- Where we could go from here.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QP82.2.S8 M38 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Modern life throws a variety of stressful situations at us. This book aims to show stress in a different light - as a natural bodily reaction to help us through certain situations. Although our bodies produce the fight or flight reaction when subjected to stress, it often seems inappropriate - our increased heart and lung rate and the chemicals injected into system by the brain can cause illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. This text invites us to improve our brain-body connections in approach to healthy living based on science. It aims to encourage to use our natural abilities to cope with stress, rather than falling victim to it.

Author Notes

Bruce McEwen is the head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University in New York City.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Based on the title, one might expect this to be a consumer health book offering cutting-edge stress-fighting techniques. Instead, brain researcher McEwen, who heads a neuroendocrinology lab at New York's Rockefeller University, presents a science text for laypeople who want to understand how brain biochemistry is altered during times of stress. He wrote the book to illustrate the paradox that "stress protects under acute conditions, but when activated chronically it can cause damage and accelerate disease." He illustrates this point by surveying some 50 years of lab research on how hormones and the immune system interact during temporary and chronic stress in people, animals and even tree shrews. In everyday terms, this syndrome is known as the "fight or flight response," but McEwen prefers the term "allostasis" for temporary stress and "allostatic" for chronic stress. Some of the studies are more intriguing than others (e.g., the chapter on voodoo death is infinitely more readable than discussions of immune function in distressed lab rats). A detailed appendix with charts of the endocrine and pituitary glands, as well as a bibliography with references to original journal studies make this a good pick for students entering the field of neuroscience, as well as scientists in other fields who are seeking to learn more. But laypeople who want to understand how stress affects the brain may be better off with Bill Moyers's less scientific but much more readable Healing and the Mind. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The stress response, paradoxically, can both ensure our immediate survival and threaten long-term physical and mental well-being. These titles describe the mechanisms involved in responding to stress, but they take different tacks. Bremner (psychiatry and radiology, Emory Univ. Sch. of Medicine) focuses on traumatic stress-its effects on individuals and their ability to work and to relate to others. His premise is that "stress-induced brain damage underlies and is responsible for the development of a spectrum of trauma-related psychiatric disorders." Bremner offers a persuasive argument for revising the current diagnostic schema of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (which currently classifies numerous trauma as distinct conditions) to provide for one single spectrum of disorders, including both acute and chronic posttraumatic stress disorder and related conditions. Like McEwen, Bremner details the biological mechanisms of the stress response, focusing especially on the changes that occur within the brain. The author also touches briefly on Freudian psychotherapy, the use of medical scanning devices, the nature vs. nurture argument, the validity of delayed recall, etc. Despite some occasional repetitive and awkward constructions in his text, Bremner offers an interesting and valuable perspective on the subject of traumatic stress. His book will particularly interest professionals. McEwen (head, Neuroendocrinology Laboratory, Rockefeller Univ.) uses the term allostasis to denote the stress response in which maximum energy is delivered to those parts of the body that will be critical for self-protection. Allostatic load, on the other hand, describes a system that turns against itself. McEwen discusses in detail the processes by which stress affects the cardiovascular and immune systems as well as the brain. The brain, according to McEwen, can be "the target as well as the initiator of the stress response." This system, however, need not inevitably threaten us. Lifestyle changes, including proper diet, exercise, rest, and the development of positive coping skills, can make an enormous difference in our ability to minimize the effects of chronic stress. McEwen's book is skillfully written and will appeal to a wide readership.-Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Distinguished neuroendocrinologist McEwen offers a review of the physiological processes by which stress can precipitate illness. In addition, he offers practical advice on ways to avoid the deleterious effects of unavoidable, stressful life situations. Although he discusses disorders such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, he focuses particularly on the brain and immune system and how stress hormones might impact cognition and disease resistance. The chapters reviewing the mechanisms by which stress leads to illness are written in detail, yet clearly and simply for an audience without a strong background in biology. Other chapters offer a broader perspective that includes discussion of the evolution of the stress response and a more philosophical discussion encouraging readers to put their personal experiences in perspective. An appendix includes diagrams similar to those found in introductory biology texts. Recent scientific findings are discussed with a clarity that would be accessible and interesting to introductory-level science or health psychology students, but the style of writing, in places, resembles that of a popular, self-help book for those interested in psychology, hormones, and health. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students. C. S. Weisse Union College (NY)

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
1 A New Way to Look at Stressp. 1
2 The Stress Response--or How We Copep. 17
3 Stress and the Emotional Connectionp. 39
4 Allostatic Load: When Protection Gives Way to Damagep. 55
5 Stress and the Cardiovascular Systemp. 67
6 Stress and the Immune Systemp. 89
7 Stress and the Brainp. 107
8 How Not to Be Stressed Outp. 135
9 Positive Healthp. 154
10 Where We Could Go from Herep. 173
Appendix Chemical Messengers of Allostasis, Their Receptors, and Their Protective and Damaging Effectsp. 191
Notesp. 203
Indexp. 225