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General Adaptation Syndrome

  1. Karen S. Quigley

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0378

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Quigley, K. S. 2010. General Adaptation Syndrome. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. New Jersey Healthcare System, Department of Veterans Affairs, East Orange, NJ

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) is a cluster of bodily responses to severe, prolonged stressors that was first described by Hans Selye. Selye observed that rats exposed to a wide variety of noxious agents exhibited a nonspecific syndrome consisting of enlargement of the adrenal gland, shrinkage of the thymus, spleen, and lymph glands, and the emergence of ulcers in the stomach and small intestine. This was seen in animals exposed to extreme cold and heat, intense sound or light, forced exercise, injections of various organ extracts or formalin, and other potent biological challenges to homeostasis.