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
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.