The study of psychological distress in sociological research: history and methodology


Papers describes the history of the formation of psychological distress sociology by the means of examining fundamental works of the psychological distress sociology founder – L. Pearlin, and modern researches presented in magazines, “Society and Mental Health” and “Journal of Health and Social Behavior”. L. Pearlin refers to the process of stress, consisting of stress sources (stressful events, chronic life difficulties and self-image), indirect resources (social support and combating stress practices), as well as stress outpouring. Special attention was paid to the relationship of stress and the life course of the individual.

Analysis of contemporary sources allows to draw three conclusions. First, most studies focused on psychological distress are quantitative in nature, using cross-sectional or longitudinal design. Second, the model of all empirical studies, in fact, is the same: psychological distress is a dependent variable, and various social factors – are independent ones. Third, research clearly demonstrates the measurement scales that are trusted at the present stage of scientific research (CES-D, K6, BSI-18). Author analyzed revised scheme of social stress proposed by C. Aneshensel and U. Mitchell (clarification are regarding the introduction to it of the indirect processes). The conclusion is made about the artificiality of linear logic type “stressor X in the life course of Y that leads to a stress response Z,” which is used in this and in similar schemes. Author suggests his own scheme of the stress process that is focused on the iteratively of various components and the importance of role of individual’s physical health. It is argued that conventional stressors, social interaction, personal characteristics (facilities, knowledge, behavior) and stress reactions are so closely interrelated that their separation from each other, when it comes to data of questionnaires, seems to be an impossible task.

Therefore, the stress response (primarily psychological) is not the result of a cause-and-effect relationship, but is one of the important indicators of individual well-being, which characterizes respondent’s the richness of life.

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