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Shipman's software books: Selye's work on stress
Selye, Hans. The stress of life.
McGraw-Hill. Revised edition, March 1978. ISBN 0070562121.
Selye, Hans. Stress without distress
Signet, December 1975, ISBN 0451161920.
Critical lessons from these books:
- Organisms seem to act as if they had a kind of fuel called
adaptation energy that is consumed by adapting to change.
Relatively static situations have low stress; rapid
change is stressful.
- There is a limit to how long an organism can sustain ``hard
burn'' situations, where they consume this energy at a high rate.
This limit seems to be innate, but variable across organisms.
- This short-term supply of energy is replenished, but slowly.
- There is a limit on how much total adaptation energy an organism
can burn. This seems to determine its lifespan, given a particular
pattern of stress. It too is innate but individually variable.
- Each organism has a preferred level at which it likes to burn
the energy. Too little stress is as unhealthy as too much.
These of course are vast oversimplifications, and perhaps
inaccurate. But I believe Selye's books are vital for those who
must cope with their limitations.
Next: Shipman's software books: Knuth's ``The Art of Programming''
See also: Shipman's reading list: software design
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 1999/05/09 18:35:05