You see them periodically in magazines, particularly magazines that cater to lifestyles as opposed to reality. They are "stress tests," designed to scare you or mollify you about the amount of tension and worry you have to cope with.
These tests assign point values to such events as "death of a close friend," "spouse begins to work," "pregnancy," or "trouble with boss." The higher your score, the more prone you supposedly are to physical illness. If you are near the breaking point from stress, seeing how you score on one of these tests is usually enough to put you in intensive care.
The trouble with these tests, though, is that they do not cover the kinds of circumstances that truly cause people to experience stress. Such a list follows. TRAUMA VALUE Your child leaves home 15 You child returns home to live 75 Your bank cancels your line of credit 45 Your bookie dies 40 You develop acne before a heavy date 65 You discover a clause in your lease forbidding the consumption of dairy product on the premises 25 Your cat becomes pregnant 30 Your cat becomes pregnant again 70 Your cat runs away 5 You lose your traveler's checks in a foreign land -- and the hotel desk clerk says, "What's an American Express?" 80 Your spouse begins to work 20 Your spouse begins to work at a massage parlor 85 You spend $30,000 to put your child through college -- and he or she joins a religious cult 90 You receive a visit from Mike Wallace 100 You tilt a pinball machine just as you're about to win a free game 20 Your drug supplier retires to Acapulco 90 You are into a loan shark for under $5,000 50 You are into a loan shark for over $5,000 95 You get an envelope marked "returned for insufficient postage" and it contains your auto insurance premium -- three days after your car is totaled 90 Your in-laws arrive for a visit 15 Your in-laws arrive for a visit in a moving van 95 Your husband has ring around the collar 40 You are caught squeezing the Charmin 40 You can't see your reflection in your dishes 40 You live in a neighborhood with more than six Girl Scouts during the cookie season 70 Your boss hates you -- and you're self-employed 45 WHAT IT MEANS Traumas up to 170, if experienced over a three- to six-month period, indicate that your life is normal and possibly even dull.
If you score between 175 and 520, you should always have Valium handy.
If you score over 525, the royalties from your best selling-autobiography-soon-to-be-a-major-motion picturestarring-Vincent Price should just about cover the analyst's bills.