Childhood Adversity And Its Effects When Grown-Up

Most people are familiar with the aphorism “What does not kill me makes me stronger” which originates from Friedrich Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols (“Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker"). It is visible in our society that this aphorism does have several coinciding quotes and lifestyles which are encouraged through media. Some examples of this are the quote from Walt Disney,” All adversity I’ve had in my life, all the troubles and obstacles have strengthened me.”, which fundamentally has the same message as the one from Nietzsche. Several well-known figures used quotes like this such as Angelina Jolie and some, like Jocko Willinks and David Goggins, have a unique lifestyle that glorifies seemingly self-mutilating actions. It is undeniable that there are a substantial number of successful people who have experienced above-average adversities beforehand. Famous for his works in psychology, Viktor Frankl, constructed the theory behind logotherapy, in which a key point he states is that people must find the meaning behind suffering to be able to grow from it. He has come to this conclusion through the time he spent in Auschwitz; through his own suffering. Some well-known figures such as; Oprah Winfrey, David Goggins, Jim Carrey, Elon Musk are all considered as having excruciating upbringings due to sexual assault, violence, poverty, family issues, and many others however they are some of the most successful people on the planet. On the other end of the spectrum, by nature, people aim to avoid discomfort and in general, adverse experiences are said to be not only unnecessary but harmful and it seems logical to avoid such encounters. Since these two opinions about hardships compel each other, the question arises; “In what ways do psychological adversities experienced during childhood affect adults differently?”. In this essay, I will investigate the question mainly from a biological point of view.

Nowadays, society is increasing in awareness regarding the importance of mental health, thus it is crucial to understand the effects of psychological crises on people regarding personal development and success within society. Even though it is inevitable to avoid hardships during one’s lifetime there are major differences between how the individual's life is affected by it. In its essence, these predicaments are very subjective due to people having different perspectives and reacting uniquely even to the same stimuli. This is proven by a study conducted by Siemer, Mauss, & Gross, (2007) in which, the reactions dependent on types of appraisal theories were studies. The key concept of this study is that appraisal is not necessarily the situation itself rather the perception of a certain situation. Since there are numerous types of theories regarding appraisal, we can gain some insight into the complexity of topics where the interpretations of humans is needed. In practice, this often means that whilst someone may easily overcome problems some can have a hard time experiencing the same difficulties.

07 September 2020
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