Do adversity make us stronger? Scientists say not always
There is an old saying that adversity makes a man stronger. But real life shows that this is not always true, however this expression highlights an ongoing debate among scientists regarding human resistance in the face of suffering.
After traumatic events and crises such as childhood abuse, gun violence, or a pandemic, what explains why some people become stronger while others have a hard time coping? Does nature, genes and other traits influence it? Or is it fueled by life experiences and social interactions?
Decades of research show that both play a role, but that neither seals a person's fate. Although scientists use different definitions, resilience generally refers to the ability to handle severe forms of stress.
According to the American Psychological Association "it includes behaviors, thoughts and actions, which can be learned and developed by anyone". But scientific evidence shows that such an effort is more difficult for some people, due to genetics, biology and life circumstances.
A landmark study conducted in the US in the mid-1990s linked adverse childhood experiences to poor mental and physical health in adulthood. He found that each additional disaster increased the risks for later. Scientists have conducted many studies to try to find the answer to why some children are more vulnerable to those experiences than others.
Pediatrician and researcher from California, Dr. Thomas Boys, decided to investigate this question more deeply because of his family history. He and his sister, who is 2 years younger, were victims of troubled family circumstances. Growing up, Boyce's life seemed blessed with good fortune, while his sister struggled and suffered from mental illness.
In laboratory tests, Boyce found that about 1 in 5 children have high biological responses to stress. He noticed signs of hyperactivity in their brain's fight response, as well as stress hormones. Also, real-world evidence has shown that when children grow up in stressful family situations, they have a higher rate of physical and mental problems.
But the evidence also shows that these children are highly sensitive, and can be very successful if they have nurturing and supportive parents, Boyce says. Ananda Amstadter, who studies traumatic stress and genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, said her research suggests that resilience to stress is 50 percent influenced by genes and the other half by environmental factors.
Në studime të tjera, studiuesit e Universitetit Djuk, Terri Mofit dhe Avshalom Kaspi, kanë lidhur variacionet e gjeneve që ndihmojnë në rregullimin e humorit, me rritjen e rrezikut për depresion apo sjellje antisociale tek fëmijët që kanë përjetuar abuzim ose neglizhencë të fëmijëve.
“Por gjenet nuk përcaktojnë fatin e një njeriu”- thotë dr.Denis Sharni, president i çështjeve akademike në “Mount Sinai Health System” në Nju Jork, që ka studiuar mënyrat për të kapërcyer vështirësitë. Sipas tij traumat mund të ndikojnë mbi zhvillimin e sistemeve kyçe të trurit që rregullojnë ankthin dhe frikën.
Psikoterapia mund t’i ndihmojë ndonjëherë njerëzit që kanë përjetuar trauma dhe vështirësi të mëdha. Dhe Dr.Sharni thotë se një familje e dashur, një rrjet i fortë miqsh dhe përvoja pozitive në shkollë, mund të ndihmojnë në kundër–balancimin e efekteve të këqija.
Originally published on Bota.al