Coping refers to the thoughts and behaviors that people use to deal with stressful situations. Although most psychologists limit the concept of coping to conscious and intentional efforts to manage stressful encounters, some theorists have argued that more automatic and unintentional ways of dealing with stressful circumstances should be included within the coping rubric.

History and Background

The history of coping as a psychological construct mirrors the history of academic psychology since the mid-20th century. Three streams of thought during the 1940s and 1950s converged to herald the study of coping: the psychoanalytic notion of defense mechanisms, the concept of stress, and experimental psychology's return from its exclusive focus on observable behavior to the study of mental processes.

Freud's concept of defense—the mind's way of keeping out of ...

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