Selye discovered and documented that stress differs from other physical responses in that stress is stressful whether one receives good or bad news, whether the impulse is positive or negative. He called negative stress "distress" and positive stress "eustress". The system whereby the body copes with stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) system, was also first described by Selye. He also pointed to an "alarm state", a "resistance state", and an "exhaustion state", largely referring to glandular states. Later he developed the idea of two "reservoirs" of stress resistance, or alternatively stress energy.
Selye wrote The Stress of Life (1956), From Dream to Discovery: On Being a Scientist (1964) and Stress without Distress (1974). He worked as a professor and director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the Université de Montréal. In 1975 he created the International Institute of Stress, and in 1979, Dr. Selye and Arthur Antille started the Hans Selye Foundation. Later Selye and eight Nobel laureates founded the Canadian Institute of Stress.
In recent years it has emerged that Selye worked as a consultant for the tobacco industry from the 1950s until his death, receiving extensive funding for his research, and taking part in pro-smoking campaigns paid for by the tobacco industry. He also helped RJ Reynolds to recruit other scientists, and there is evidence that industry lawyers helped with the wording and content of some of Selye’s later academic papers. The tobacco industry’s funding of Selye’s research was cited as an example of racketeering in the successful anti-racketeering case brought by the US Department of Justice against 7 tobacco companies in 2009.