Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Traumatic experiences may make you tough

Date:
December 18, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Your parents were right: Hard experiences may indeed make you tough. Psychological scientists have found that, while going through many experiences like assault, hurricanes, and bereavement can be psychologically damaging, small amounts of trauma may help people develop resilience.

Your parents were right: Hard experiences may indeed make you tough. Psychological scientists have found that, while going through many experiences like assault, hurricanes, and bereavement can be psychologically damaging, small amounts of trauma may help people develop resilience.

"Of course, everybody's heard the aphorism, 'Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger,'" says Mark D. Seery of the University at Buffalo. His paper on adversity and resilience appears in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. But in psychology, he says, a lot of ideas that seem like common sense aren't supported by scientific evidence.

Indeed, a lot of solid psychology research shows that having miserable life experiences is bad for you. Serious events, like the death of a child or parent, a natural disaster, being physically attacked, experiencing sexual abuse, or being forcibly separated from your family, can cause psychological problems. In fact, some research has suggested that the best way to go through life is having nothing ever happen to you. But not only is that unrealistic, it's not necessarily healthy, Seery says.

In one study, Seery and his colleagues found that people who experienced many traumatic life events were more distressed in general -- but they also found that people who had experienced no negative life events had similar problems. The people with the best outcomes were those who had experienced some negative events. Another study found that people with chronic back pain were able to get around better if they had experienced some serious adversity, whereas people with either a lot of adversity or none at all were more impaired.

One possibility for this pattern is that people who have been through difficult experiences have had a chance to develop their ability to cope. "The idea is that negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties," Seery says. In addition, people who get through bad events may have tested out their social network, learning how to get help when they need it.

This research isn't telling parents to abuse their kids so they'll grow up to be well-adjusted adults, Seery says. "Negative events have negative effects," he says. "I really look at this as being a silver lining. Just because something bad has happened to someone doesn't mean they're doomed to be damaged from that point on."

The article is entitled, Resilience: A Silver Lining to Experiencing Adverse Life Events?.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Traumatic experiences may make you tough." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216150254.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, December 18). Traumatic experiences may make you tough. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216150254.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Traumatic experiences may make you tough." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111216150254.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins