The link between stress and illness seems obvious to most people today, and its roots date back to ancient times. The Greek physician Galen believed that emotion could cause disease. However, the concept of stress and its role in the development of illness began to develop only after the 1930s. During that decade, endocrinologist Hans Selye started to research a pattern of physical damage that he observed in sick animals. He noted the similarities in the animals’ physiological damage, regardless of the differences in their diseases.

Selye borrowed the term stress from physics and engineering to describe a force that produces a strain. Selye hypothesized that physical forces impinge on the body, which results in strain that may cause illness; that is, the initial conceptualization ...

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