So Nietzsche WAS right: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, scientists find
Small amounts of trauma can make us more resilient, a new study has found
He said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – and it seems that philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was right.
Scientists have found that although traumatic experiences such as losing a loved one can be psychologically damaging, small amounts of trauma can make us more resilient.
In one study, those who experienced many difficult life events were found to be more distressed in general – but the same was true of some who had not faced any.
Those who had experienced some difficulties were the best off.
Other research revealed that people with chronic back pain were more mobile if they had experienced some serious adversity.
Sufferers who had encountered either a lot or none at all were more impaired.
Researcher Mark Seery, a psychologist at the University at Buffalo in the U.S., said: ‘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.
Wise man: Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher has been proven right
‘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.’
He suggested that those who go through difficult experiences are given a chance to develop an ability to cope with such situations in the future.
‘The idea is that negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties,’ he said.
Although he stressed that ‘negative events have negative effects’, Dr Seery added: ‘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.’
His report on adversity and resilience appears in the latest issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.
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