What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger goes the saying, however researchers at NY’s University of Buffalo wanted to scientifically analyze how exactly when faced with adversities, a person comes out mentally tougher, able to cope much better next time.

Previous analysis and studies have revealed a clear correlation between the number of adversities fate threw at a person and the respective person’s ability to better mentally withstand other similar or even tougher events. On the opposite side of the spectrum, people who had little experience with hardship, be a serious injury, the death of a loved one, or some other kind of trauma, showed a poorer ability to cope. Too much hardship, however, won’t make you a man of stone.

One of the study’s control groups was comprised of 2,398 subjects suffering from chronic back pain, who were surveyed for a span of three years. Those with some adversities in their past, were less functionally impaired compared to those with a great deal of past trauma, or no major traumas at all. Also, those found in the middle spectrum were found to visit doctors or use prescription medication less often than the other two extremes.

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“Our findings revealed,” he says, “that a history of some lifetime adversity — relative to both no adversity or high adversity — predicted lower global distress, lower functional impairment, lower PTS symptoms and higher life satisfaction,” Seery said.

Study author, Mark Seery, believes this can be explained by a number of factors like mastering past hurdles, feeling in control, building social support networks and stimulating cell growth in areas of the brain that relate to coping.

“Negative events have negative effects,” Seery said in a news release. “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.”

This might seem like a study funded by Captain Obvious, however this study, combined with the rest of what we know about resilience, will help give a clearer picture of how to respond to adverse life experiences.

The study was published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

via LA Times | image credit