Non-Profit Spotlight: American Institute of Stress

CPS - Stress

What is the biggest source of stress in your life right now? Is it planning or shopping for the holidays? Or perhaps the stress is due to that big psychology final exam? Everyone has their own answer to that question. The truth is, there is no single source of stress. What is stressful for one person may have little effect on another. We all react to stress differently. 

The concept of “stress” has become such an ingrained part of our vocabulary and daily lives that it’s hard to believe the current use of the term originated only a little more than 50 years ago, when it was coined by Hungarian endocrinologist Dr. Hans Selye. As a medical student, Dr. Selye observed that patients suffering from different diseases often exhibited identical signs and symptoms. They just “looked sick.” His observation may have been the first step in his recognition of “stress.” He later discovered and described the General Adaptation Syndrome, a response of the body to demands placed upon it. 

The American Institute of Stress (AIS) was established in 1978 at the behest of Dr. Selye to serve as a clearinghouse for information on all stress-related subjects. Its goal is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in stress management in education, research, clinical care, and the workplace. The organization educates medical practitioners, scientists, health care professionals, and the public; conducts research; and provides information, training, and techniques to prevent human illness related to stress.

In addition to Dr. Selye, founding members of AIS included Linus Pauling, Alvin Toffler, Bob Hope, Michael DeBakey, Herbert Benson, Ray Rosenman, and other prominent physicians, health professionals, and lay individuals who were interested in exploring the effects stress has on the health and quality of life.

AIS provides a diverse and inclusive environment that fosters intellectual discovery, creates and transmits innovative knowledge, improves human health, and provides leadership to the world on stress related topics. 

To learn about the effects of stress on human health and to find out more about AIS, visit Below is a podcast by Dr. Daniel Kirsch, President of AIS, about behavioral techniques to reduce stress. 

Techniques to Cope with Stress Podcast—Dr. Daniel Kirsch gives some simple techniques to help cope with stress.