Book: Stress The Silent Killer
Author: Temitayo Adebimpe Bolarin (Ph.D)
Publisher: Toptune Educational Publishers, Lagos
Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga
An excerpt from The Psychologist (1998) states: “Truly, everyday life needs a level of arousal to be worthwhile and when this arousal is optimal, stress is at its best. Beyond this point, it becomes a problem to the individual who would become over-aroused.” Based on this point of view, Temitayo Bolarin, a Lagos State University don wrote the book titled Stress The Silent Killer to offer general enlightenment on how to manage stress especially in these hard times.
The 46-page handbook is in five chapters which discuss stress-related problems. The author says “a careful reading of the book and heeding to suggestions made therein will facilitate healthy living and eventually put some check to the sudden death syndrome now commonly repeated especially among middle aged executives in the pages of our daily newspapers.”
Hence, in Chapter One titled Stress and Individual Differences, Professor Bolarin explains what stress is, types of stress; and the different states of stress. She points out that “Stress, is a medical term, coined by an Australian-born Hans Selye… (referring to) body reactions to all conceivable type of severe injuries, diseases, poisons, or unusual work demands.”
Referring to Nweze (1998), the author says stress is “the wear and tear of life.” Also quoting McNerney (1974), she defines stress as “the body’s physical, mental and chemical reactions to circumstances that frighten, excite, confuse, endanger, or irritate a person.” Over-stress; Under Stress; and Normal Stress, are the three types of stress identified in the chapter. The author backs up with instances of individual differences in stress conditions.
Stressors and Manifestation of Stress is the title of Chapter Two. Here, the author states that “the cause of stress is referred to as the stressor; or stressful event. This even can be good or bad. It can have its origin in the home, the job or in the environment.” Bolarin enlightens the reader that factors or events that cause stress are referred to as “Stressors.” Pointing out the factors responsible for stress, she identified personal stressors, natural stressors and environmental stressors. Of all the three categories, environmental stressors’ seems to be the most-killing type of stress in the Nigerian society. Such environmentally aggravated stressors include things like weather, working conditions, uncleared garbage, industrial emissions, election jerrymandering, total blackout caused by unavailability of electric power supply, political gangsterism and menacing behaviour, etc.
The effects of stress on human beings, signs of stress (physical symptoms, social symptoms, mental or intellectual symptoms, emotional symptoms and spiritual symptoms) from level one to five, including stressful situations are recognised by the author. This chapter brings to mind many worries people go through in the journey of life. It also act as a reminder to some of the situations raised in Sylvester Omosun’s book, Music of the Mind (2005) which flows on the same lane of thought with Amusa (1985) that states that stress exists everywhere as these are indeed, stressful times. Even in highly sophisticated societies and fast-changing cultures. Man continues to experience changes every day: Changes related to culture, tradition, fulfilment of hopes and aspirations as some individuals are saddled with responsibilities related to governmental or private jobs.
Chapter Three is specially focused on the executive class of people in the world, therefore, it is titled The Executive Stress. In this chapter, Bolarin emphasizes with reference that “what workers needed was not just shorter hours but better hours; not more money but a richer life… Hence, the true reward of labour was in life wages, self-education, self expression, self-government; mastery and satisfaction in the job, not comforts and luxuries as a relief from job” (Lewis Mumford, in The Condition of Man).
Who should be referred to as an executive; the major causes of stress for the executive and how an executive can overcome stress are some of the highlights of the next chapter. The author describes an executive as “an individual who manages or executes a business, an enterprise or an organisation.” Major causes of executive stress stated in the handbook include decision making. Delegation of duties; poor provision or supply of materials needed; level or degree of efficiency or capability of subordinates; assignments with deadline; conflict with other workers; conflict with students (where applicable); lack of needed managerial skill; family; friends; under-remuneration by employer and postponing of what can be done now or today to the following day. The implication of executive stress on the individuals and the nation are also debunked with crystal clarity in this chapter.
In every situation of life, any problem that has been diagnosed must be tackled with possible solution. This necessitates the subject matter of Chapter Four, titled Coping With Executive Stress. The importance of adapting to one’s environment which is the central message of the handbook is reinforced in the above subject matter. Ways to prevent executive stress are clearly stated in the chapter, reminding the reader that “life is short, so make the best of it. Stress suffocates and shortens life. Prevention is always better and cheaper than cure.”
The author concludes the handbook with General Effective Management of Success. With reference to Alade (1998), Bolarin offers that effective management of stress consists in treating, not only the symptoms or suppressing them, but, in looking seriously at the root causes of the problems and addressing them. The author posits that the treatment styles and techniques of coping with stress should focus on two methodologies which therapeutic recreation specialists employ. The two methods are; short term reduction of stress; and the use of leisure education and counselling (long term measure).
The most commendable aspect of the book is that it is written in a clear, easy to understand, simple and fluent style, to assist the general members of the public towards coping with stressful events in their lives. No typographical error was noticed in the book too, which adds more credibility to it. Bolarin, a professor of Educational Psychology in the Department of Educational Foundations, Lagos State University, also holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Lagos. However, not much marketing and publicity has been given to the book, otherwise, it could have been helping to reduce the rate of ill-health and death among company executives and members of the public, who are always stressed up.