Political Stress

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Political Stress

Stress originally came from the Latin word “strictus” meaning strict. Stress causes mental or physical tension or strain, which can deform a person. In a sense, stress causes a restrictive hold on the body and mind, which causes a person to act in ways that are out of the norm for them. Stress can be described as the force itself, meaning whatever is bringing the force upon a person. Police work is very stressful due to the pressures of the job, and strict legal limitations.

Many researchers have examined the basic stressors involved in policing. Violanti and Aron (1995) believe that there are two major categories mentioned by officers. These are organizational practices, and the inherent nature of police work (Spielberger, et al. 1981; Martelli et al. 1989; Violanti and Aron, 1995).

Police stress has been examined by a variety of researchers, Evans et al. (1992) has reviewed a range of research studies on the police personality and coping. Most of the reviewed research argues that police officers change their coping strategies and behaviors overtime, with some of these changes actually contributing to officers reported stress experiences and stress levels. In everyday work duties, police officers are involved in a number of activities that may be very stressful, and constant exposure to these stressful events possibly leads to a number of psychological and physical outcomes (Evans, et al. 1992).

Chan and Grossman (1988) studied the immediate effects of stressors which have shown that subjects report higher levels of helplessness and feelings of lack of control, and greater psychological distress including depression, anxiety, confusion and overall mood disturbances when they are stressed (Chan and Grossman, 1988). In longer terms, individuals may experience changes in their personalities, which reflect alterations of their typical coping strategies (Skolnick, 1973; Singleton, 1977).

In situations of extreme stress, officers may display the symptoms usually associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Evans, et al. 1992). It is common for individuals who undergo a traumatic event to experience such emotional states such as fear, anxiety, guilt, depression, sadness, anger, and shock. Cognitive effects include difficulty with decision-making, concentration, and memory processes (Reiser and Geiger, 1984; Mitchell, 1988). More distressing symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, vivid flashbacks to the event, difficulties relating to others, self-destructive or aggressive rages, and fear of losing control (Evans, 1991).

Police officers also have a high rate of stress related illness.

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