Mothers and Daughters at Home
35 Projects to Make TogetherBook - 2000
Stress names a kind of grief unique to the modern period, a grief perpetually unresolved, evoked by the rapid and relentless changes characteristic of modernity. Because our grief is always unresolved, the passion of mourning is perpetually productive. Stress is also a discourse, a mutation of experience by the external power of speech, a power that can devour what it articulates.
Yet, it was not until World War II, when the psychiatric difficulties of pilots and bombers in particular brought stress into the open, that stress became a topic of medical and psychological research and a named cause of disorders. The term borrows the notions of pressure and tension from the engineering world. The seeds of stress are found around 1750, when the notion of luxury changed in meaning from a vice to be avoided to a virtue to be vigorously pursued. Before this time, human existence differed from ours in such a way that we detect no stress or anything like it. The book includes a phenomenology of the experience of stress, a history of the construction of engineered grief, and an assessment of stress management programs. Because such programs seek to make us comfortable with stress, they do not move us to bring the work of grieving to a resolution. This book will be of interest to post-modernists, phenomenologists, social constructionists, hermeneuticists, deconstructionists, social historians, and medical historians.