oa South African Medical Journal - The general practitioner and the general adaptation syndrome



(Concluded from p. 92) An attempt has been made to decide how one stimulus will affect an individual's power to respond to a different stimulus. The problem is of special interest to physicians since they will wish to know how patients struggling with a disease will react to an additional stimulus. Much evidence has been sifted and it seems that there are several different and apparently contradictory answers; yet, in different circumstances each of these answers is probably true: 1. If an individual is failing to adapt to a disease he may succeed in so doing, if he is exposed to a totally different mild stimulus (such as slight fall of oxygen tension). 2. In the process of adapting to this new stimulus he may acquire the power of reacting more intensely to all stimuli. 3. As a result of a severe stimulus an individual may not be able to adapt successfully to a second severe stimulus (such as a disease). 4. If he is already adapting successfully to a disease this adaptation may fail when he is exposed to a second severe stimulus. 5. In some diseases (those of Adaptation) exposure to a fresh severe stimulus may cure the disease. Here, too, exposure to an additional stressor will bring him nearer to death but the risk may be justifiable if it is likely to re-mould the adaptive mechanism to a normal form. An apparent cure of a chronic disease, by the use of insulin shock treatment is descriptionbed. Practitioners are urged to try such simple shock therapy themselves, on Adaptation Diseases which are listed. Of all the above different types of reaction (1) and (2) are the result of mild stimuli; (5) is the reaction of Adaptation Disease; the remainder of these apparently paradoxical results may be explained on the same simple lines as the individual's own financial balance sheet. Whether he spends his money in one way or another, he is subject to the same simple inexorable laws which relate income, expenditure and capital reserve with final bankruptcy. So it is with the currency of adaptation energy, where excess of expenditure over income will drain away capital, until all power of adaptation is finally lost. This is the moment of death.


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