Psychological stress has been identified in literature for centuries. As early as the 17th century, philosophers discussed the impact of stress on human temperament and physiology. Modern theories of stress begin with the 19th-century concept of traumatic neurosis. From the middle of the century, railway accidents resulted in increased litigation by injured persons suffering from chronic pain and stress-induced paralysis. The development of the specialty of neurology initially attributed these apparent so-called stress-related neurological deficits to spinal cord injury.

Jean-Martin Charcot's demonstration of the onset of paralysis and other symptoms in “hysterical” women suggested to Sigmund Freud in 1893 a psychological etiology of hysteria. In 1889, Hermann Oppenheim coined the term traumatic neurosis to describe what he believed was a “molecular derangement” of nerve tissue. Initially ...

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