Stress Psychiatrist Ada Ordyanskaya

  • Slava Gerovitch
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology book series (PSHST)


Ada (Ida) Borisovna Ordyanskaya was born on December 2, 1926. She graduated from medical school and worked at the Scientific-Research Institute of Psychiatry of the Russian Federation Ministry of Health in Moscow. She was a leading specialist in schizophrenia psychotherapy, in stress relief, and in suicide prevention. She is the author of a psychiatric manual and numerous articles on this subject. Ordyanskaya is the cousin of Abram Genin, a leading Soviet specialist in space medicine.1 She has emigrated to the United States and currently lives in Brighton, Massachusetts.
Figure 13.1

Ada Ordyanskaya, June 3, 2014 (photo by author).


Space Flight Suicide Prevention Crew Member Stress Psychiatrist European History 
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  1. 3.
    On the Institute of Biomedical Problems, see Oleg Gazenko and Dmitriy Malashenkov, “Vekhi razvitiya kosmicheskoy meditsiny,” Zemlya i Vselennaya, no. 6 (1996), accessed May 21, 2014, The Soviet psychological support program for cosmonauts was created at the institute in 1975. Its activities were threefold: (1) providing non-work-related news: TV and radio reports and family news; (2) organizing communication sessions with family members, famous actors, singers, etc.; and (3) sending parcels with personal gifts up to 11 lbs. Psychologists also occasionally served as a “lightning rod” for outpouring of cosmonauts’ negative emotions. See Victoria Garshnek, “Soviet Space Flight: The Human Element,” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 60 (1989): 695–705;Google Scholar
  2. and Nick Kanas, “Psychological Support for Cosmonauts,” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 62 (1991): 353–355.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    According to Nick Kanas, “Psychosomatic symptoms have been reported during space missions. These symptoms have included headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and fears of developing various physical illnesses during the mission”; Nick Kanas, “Psychological, Psychiatric, and Interpersonal Aspects of Long-Duration Space Missions,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets 27:5 (1990): 459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 6.
    This notion is close to “adjustment disorder,” which reflects “a maladaptive reaction to a clear stressor” with “extended and excessive feelings of anxiety, depressed mood, or antisocial behaviors”; Ronald J. Comer, Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology, 7th ed. (New York: Worth Publishers, 2010), pp. 17, 108.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    “Decompensation” refers to the loss of an organism’s ability to “compensate,” or function in spite of stressors and other deficiencies. According to Sarah Sifers, “The most seriously disruptive reaction to stress is decompensation. When the stressor situation is extremely demanding or prolonged … any adaptive capacities of the individual may be overwhelmed. Efficiency is lost, vulnerability to other stressors is increased, disorders develop, and complete exhaustion makes any self-sustaining effort impossible. Decompensation usually is both biological and psychological”; Sarah Sifers, Abnormal Psychology (HarperCollins Publishers eBook, 2011).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Behavior therapy (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, or REBT) was developed by the American psychotherapist Albert Ellis in the mid-1950s. “In Ellis’s view, mental distress is produced not so much by upsetting events as it is caused by rigid and maladaptive ways in which we interpret those events …. Like Beck’s approach, REBT consists of helping the client zero in on these irrational beliefs and then challenging them.” REBT often involves role playing. “A very shy client, for example, may be encouraged to sing loudly in a subway or flirt with men she finds attractive, so that she may come to realize that her life does not fall apart as a result. Success in challenging false beliefs ultimately eliminates them, perhaps eliminating the resultant psychological disorder as well”; Luis A. Cordón, Popular Psychology: An Encyclopedia (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005), p. 54.Google Scholar

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© Slava Gerovitch 2014

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  • Slava Gerovitch

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