Psychosocial and economic factors in our lives play a major role in physical and mental disease as well as access to care. This course is organized around four questions: 1) What psychosocial and environmental conditions are stressful for given individuals? 2) What are the stress-related pathophysiological and/or behavioral pathways to disease? 3) Why is a particular organ system such as the gastro-intestinal or the stomach in particular the target of individual stress? 4) What psychosocial factors influence the cognitive, affective/physiological, and behavioral responses to being sick? These four questions will be addressed in the context of the stress of retirement, being different, and being a caregiver.

Suggested Reading: Sapolsky, Robert. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping. W.H. Freeman & Co., 2004 (3rd ed.), paperback. Adler, N.E. and Stewart, J. (eds). The Biology of Disadvantage: Socioeconomic Status and Health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1186, 2010 (Chapters to be assigned).

Donald B. Giddon, D.M.D., Harvard University; Ph.D. in psychology from Brandeis University; Professor of Developmental Biology Emeritus, Harvard University, Faculty of Medicine, and Professor Emeritus of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University School of Public Health; author of more than 100 published articles, abstracts, reviews and books; numerous lectures including those on the psychophysiology of stress and disease.

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OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
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