Heritage, Volume 7, Number 1, Winter 1989 Page: 12
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develop another. Antonovsky's answer is
that there are a number of generalized
resistance resources such as money, ego
strength, cultural stability and social supports,
which are effective in combating
stress. They help to make sense out of the
countless stressors with which we are constantly
bombarded. From this he developed
the concept of the "sense of coherence"
which he defines as a pervasive and enduring
feeling of confidence that one's environment
is predictable and there is a high
probability that things will work out as well
as can be reasonably expected.
While Antonovsky's work is beginning
to be researched and tested in the fields of
medicine, psychology, and social epidemiology,
McCarthy sees applications to the
fields of environmental studies and planning,
which include historic preservation.
"I think there is a health aspect which
we never talk about when we're dealing
with historic preservation and historic resources.
We tend to say, 'We have to save
this because it's historic or old.' But I think
it goes further. We have to save it because
it goes right down to the well-being of the
He goes on to say that when our links
with the past are gone, we have no way of
dealing with our own identity. This loss of
identity is a stressor. Behavioral medicine
indicates that ninety percent of today's illnesses
are stress-related; therefore, we may
be increasing our chances of illness by not
preserving our past. Unfortunately, we
have little substantiated evidence to support
this supposition because people have
not examined preservation from this angle.
There are many issues which we need to
assess such as: Do people change psychologically
for the better by living in a coherent
environment? In areas where historic
resources have been preserved, do people
experience a higher quality of life? Are
people who live in areas which have historic
preservation programs dealing more
successfully with illness?
Dean McCarthy sees the need to start
the kind of research that would answer
these sorts of questions. He wants to document
the link between design and health.
This photo was taken from the top of Rudder
Tower, looking northeast across campus from the
Faculty Club dining room. In the distance you can
see the Oceanography/Meteorology Building and
Langford Architecture Center.
This orientation which McCarthy has
coined "Health by Design," has been integrated
into new research directions for
Texas A&M University's College of
The concept that historic preservation
may be good for one's health could provide
new impetus to the work of the Texas Historical
Foundation and to preservation
groups everywhere. Even though such an
announcement may be premature, the idea
A woman visiting a group of historic
homes put it very well, saying to her husband,
"You know, Charlie, if I could live in
a place like this, I don't think I'd have to
take any more nerve medicine."
There are many of us who feel the same
12 HERITAGE * WINTER 1989
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 1, Winter 1989, periodical, Winter 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45430/m1/12/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.