ON ROAD TO RECOVERY, PAST ADVERSITY PROVIDES A MAP
Dear All: An article has been posted to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/health/04mind.html?_r=1&ref=health
New research suggests that resilience may have at least as much to do with how often people have faced adversity in past as it does with who they are — their personality, their genes, for example — or what they’re facing now. That is, the number of life blows a person has taken may affect his or her mental toughness more than any other factor.
“Frequency makes a difference: that is the message,” said Roxane Cohen Silver, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine. “Each negative event a person faces leads to an attempt to cope, which forces people to learn about their own capabilities, about their support networks — to learn who their real friends are. That kind of learning, we think, is extremely valuable for subsequent coping,” up to a point.
In a study appearing in the current issue of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dr. Cohen Silver, E. Alison Holman, also of the University of California, Irvine, and Mark D. Seery, of the State University at Buffalo, followed nearly 2,000 adults for several years, monitoring their mental well-being with online surveys. The participants, a diverse cross section of Americans between the ages of 18 and 101, listed all of the upsetting life events they had experienced before entering the study and any new ones that hit along the way. These included divorce, the death of a friend or parent, a serious illness, and being in a natural disaster.
Or, none of the above: A subset of the participants, 194, reported that they had experienced not one of the fairly comprehensive list of 37 events on the survey. “We wondered: Who are these people who have managed to go through life with nothing bad happening to them?” Dr. Cohen Silver said. “Are they hyper-conscientious? Socially isolated? Just young? Or otherwise unique?” They weren’t, the researchers found. Stranger still, they were not the most satisfied with their lives. Their sense of well-being was about the same, on average, as people who had suffered up to a dozen memorable blows.
Lawrence Ian Geller
For Advisors Only
Posted by BEYOND RISK at 1/06/2011