TECHNOSTRESS: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution by Craig Brod

TECHNOSTRESS: The Human Cost of the Computer Revolution

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Brod is a California industrial psychologist who coined the term ""technostress,"" he says, to describe the health fallout of computer technology. Most commonly: the anxiety of white-collar workers, teachers, middle managers, and professionals who have computer terminals thrust upon them and who manifest headaches, irritability, and other stress-associated physical or psychological symptoms. Less common but no less serious is overidentification with the computer--a form of stress Brod calls ""technocentered."" These are the zombies who forsake all else--and all others--to be with a machine. Brod has lots of anecdotal material on both phenomena. In the first part, he decries American infatuation with the superfast and superaccurate, and the prestige that comes with owning such devices. This gets preachy, and the tales of poor David and Jennifer and Frank border on overkill. Brod does agree, however, that post-industrial society and computer technology are here to stay, and can be used wisely and well. He'd have us adopt a sense of proportion, take time out for human interactions and emotions. Unions, parents, management, and individuals should attempt to make the transition to the electronic workplace as smooth as possible. Worker participation in software design is important, and job diversity essential. Brod's horror stories of parceling out already routine clerical operations into smaller subsets of repeated keyboard strokes--recording the number of strokes, meanwhile, to increase output--are clear instances of cruel and unusual punishment. Also well (and humorously) taken is his point that technocentered individuals whose spouses drive them to counselors often see therapists who think in terms of information exchange. Overall, though, the concerns are both magnified and routinely dealt with--as against the health- or office-focused books that address actual workaday situations.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1984
Publisher: Addison-Wesley