Website of the week
Stress now has its own encyclopaedia that chronicles terrors, traumas, and the latest available treatments for the ensuing psychological fallout (p 1187). The idea of an encyclopaedia made of real paper probably seems rather quaint to the tech-heads and self proclaimed computer uber-geeks here in Silicon Valley. After all, you can find electronic encyclopaedias galore at Freeality (www.freeality.com/encyclop.htm) or Library Spot (www.libraryspot.com/encyclopedias.htm). But the whole point of a paper encyclopaedia, surely, is its smell of bound leather, its sensual feel, and the way it becomes like an old and trusted friend.
It is easy to be cynical about the "stress industry," which is worth over $9bn in the United States. Using the brilliant search engine All the Web (www.alltheweb.com), I found four million sites on stress, many offering unconditional promises of a stress-free life for the right price. There are courses, tapes, stress busting toys, and even an "Online Psychohumorist" (www.stressdoc.com/) to help you smile through your burnout or grief. The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism takes a wry look at this "commerce of coping" at stress.jrn.columbia.edu/site/intro/index.html.
So how can you tell if you're vulnerable to stress? The "vulnerability test" at www.stressfree.com/vlnr_tst.html suggests that your risk is high if you don't give and receive affection, exercise, or confide in others about your feelings. But I'm not sure what kind of stress the site refers to, since the term encompasses everything from depression, anxiety, and the psychological consequences of trauma through to worries about pets, holidays, or finding the right hair care product for difficult, flyaway hair.
The irony-free American Institute of Stress (www.stress.org/) reminds us of
the serious side of the condition. Stress related illness, it says,
makes up 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians and is
responsible for a million US citizens each day needing to take time
deputy editor, wjmWestern Journal of Medicine email@example.com
© BMJ 2001
Produced by theBMJ Publishing Group of the BMA, assisted by Stanford University's HighWire Press
Copyright© 2001 BMJ