University of British Columbia
Sensitivity to stress is a perennial and important concept, embedded in all diathesis theories. Plainly, people vary in their sensitivity to stress. In any potentially stressful situation, some people will endure without difficulty while others show signs of acute distress. That said, we need to find out whether the sensitivity is specific to the particular stressor or whether it is a general predisposition, likely to become manifest in a range of situations. Another possibility is that many people harbor a general sensitivity within which specific susceptibilities are nested.
In time, these questions give rise to technical problems: How can we recognize and measure general and specific sensitivities? Is sensitivity unidimensional? How does it develop? Can we construct reliable and valid test-beds without straying over ethical borders? Can we infer sensitivity from the emergence of psychopathology? and so forth. These and many related matters are analyzed and discussed in this timely and useful compendium cum progress report on anxiety sensitivity.
From the time of its introduction by Reiss and McNally in 1985, the concept of anxiety sensitivity -- the fear of anxiety-related sensation's-attracted active attention. In part this attention arose from a recognition that the idea of variable sensitivities has not been adequately explored, even though progress has been made, as in the concepts of neuroticism, trait anxiety, and so forth. A second