Objectively, adult lives are more comfortable, less physically demanding, and easier than those in the past. Ourhealth is far better, our life expectancy much longer, our standard of living visibly higher. Our jobs are less taxing physically. We have a safety net, which, whatever its inadequacies, is more extensive than anything that previously existed.
Yet, by most measures, adults feel morestress than did their predecessors. Indeed, the very concept of stress is a relatively recent invention, dating back only to the 1920s and 1930s. But it was not until the 1950s that a modern model of stress, in which the release of certain hormones in response to stressors induces certain psycho-physiological changes, entered the broader culture. Subsequent years saw significant advances inunderstanding of the neurchemistry and bio-psychological mechanisms of stress, of the variety of stress disorders (including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, identified in the mid1970s), and of approaches to coping with stress.