Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
John Henryism and Health
Gary G. Bennett
As defined by James, Hartnett, and Kalsbeek (1983), John Henryism (JH) is a “strong behavioral predisposition to cope actively with psychosocial environmental stressors.” The construct is characterized by three major themes: (1) efficacious mental and physical vigor, (2) a strong commitment to hard work, and (3) a single-minded determination to succeed. The JH model takes its name and is inspired in part by the story of John Henry, the “steel-driving man.” According to the legend, John Henry was a widely admired African American railroad worker in the late 19th century who, in an epic steel-driving competition, defeated a steam-powered drill. However, soon after rallying his strength to win the contest, John Henry died suddenly from mental and physical fatigue. For James, the fabled actions of John Henry served to illuminate the empirical literature describing the relation between psychosocial stress and hypertension among those of low socioeconomic status (SES). It is ...