General Writing and Grammar Help/Definition of distress.


Dear Joel, here is my sentence, "Jack was distressed about development of cancer symptoms itelf."
  In this statement, I am unclear what is meant by "distress".  If I am correct, it appears it is not cancer symptoms, itself, that is causing Jack distress.  In other words, the distress is not inherently manifesting from his cancer symptoms.  Rather, it is Jack's belief that his actually having cancer symptoms is what is causing him distress(i.e., Jack distress is not inherently caused by the cancer symptoms but his distress is caused by his belief that his showing cancer symptoms is in some way not acceptable/intolerable).  Is this correct?
      Also, I would think that "distress" that Jack is exhibiting in this case is not inherently caused by the cancer symptoms but his "distress" is caused by his negative belief(i.e., metacognitive belief) about cancer symptoms.   Is this correct?

If I understand your question, you're asking if Jack's distress is about the cancer itself, or if it is about his thoughts regarding cancer. I think the "distress" could come from either.  He will have distress--pain,weakness, hair and weight loss--from the cancer, but he will also have distress from the feelings and emotions generated by cancer.  He is facing mortality.  What will become of his family?  I'd say the distress is from the cancer and also his feelings from it.

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Joel Bjorling


I can answer questions relating to grammar or general writing technique.


I have published five nonfiction books and a number of articles. I currently write a column for a local newspaper. I am especially good at reference materials and where to find information.

Fate Magazine The Anomalist

B.A., Oral Roberts University, Behavioral Science; MA, McCormuick Theological Seminary (Theological Studies)

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