Selye’s mother was Austrian but his father was a Hungarian doctor in the army. His father was moved to Komárom (now called Komarno after Czech and Slovak annexation) after World War I, so the young Selye attended elementary and secondary school there. As early as his second year of medical school (1926), he began developing his now-famous theory of the influence of stress on people’s ability to cope with and adapt to the pressures of injury and disease. He discovered that patients with a variety of ailments manifested many similar symptoms, which he ultimately attributed to their bodies’ efforts to respond to the stresses of being ill. He called this collection of symptoms—this separate stress disease—stress syndrome, or the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). He spent a lifetime in continuing research on GAS and wrote some 30 books and more than 1,500 articles on stress and related problems, including Stress without Distress (1974) and The Stress of Life (1956). So impressive have his findings and theories been that some authorities refer to him as “the Einstein of medicine.”
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