Exposed to events that never happen: Generalized unsafety, the default stress response, and prolonged autonomic activity

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Abstract

Based on neurobiological and evolutionary arguments, the generalized unsafety theory of stress (GUTS) hypothesizes that the stress response is a default response, and that chronic stress responses are caused by generalized unsafety (GU), independent of stressors or their cognitive representation. Three highly prevalent conditions are particularly vulnerable to becoming ‘compromised’ in terms of GU, and carry considerable health risks:

Thus, GUTS critically revises and expands stress theory, by focusing on safety instead of threat, and by including risk factors that have hitherto not been attributed to stress.

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