Bits of adversity toughen you up like steel

December 18th, 2011 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 18 (IANS) Going through adversities might seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but such experiences often 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, U.S. But in psychology, he says, a lot of ideas that seem like common sense aren’t supported by scientific evidence.

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, according to a Buffalo statement.

Seery and colleagues pointed out that people who experienced many traumatic events were more distressed in general, but then those who had experienced no such events, too, had similar problems.

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.

This research isn’t telling parents to abuse their kids so they’ll grow up to be well-adjusted adults. “Negative events have negative effects,” Seery 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,” adds Seery.

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