Friday, October 15, 2010

Good News for the Chilean Miners, I Guess

Sometimes I see news items about scientific studies that have somehow gotten funding and produced results, and I have to shake my head and wonder: Did we really need to have this proven? Such a story crossed my computer today. Apparently, scientists at the University of Buffalo have conducted a "national multi-year longitudinal study" to confirm that indeed, as conventional wisdom would have it, what does not kill you makes you stronger.

The title of this study was, "Whatever Does Not Kill Us: Cumulative Lifetime Adversity, Vulnerability and Resilience."

According to a news release, the study "found that adverse experiences do, in fact, appear to foster subsequent adaptability and resilience, with resulting advantages for mental health and well being." This goes against previous research indicating that negative experiences have negative outcomes. Obviously, more research is needed on this pressing issue.

Or not. Surely there are things that psychologists could be researching that have a clearer therapeutic value. I'm not sure what the implications are for the "Whatever Does Not Kill Us" study, although there's lots of technical language in the news release describing it. Are we not going to give people therapy if we find out not getting killed makes you stronger? Are we going to just finish the job and kill people if we find not getting killed makes you weak? Is there something outside the realm of adages that can be more definitively and helpfully examined?

Still, I suppose we can take heart in the study's findings that the beneficial effect of non-killing applies to the small knife cuts that we get every day as well as the cataclysmic events. So that bad IEP meeting, that annoying note from the teacher, that homework it took you all night to drag your child through? Like Wheaties, baby.

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