April 2012

Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior, was recently quoted in US News and World Report. Silver says there no single way people respond to negative life events and the same person may respond differently at different times in his or her life. It also turns out that experiencing some adversity strengthens coping skills and can produce an "inoculation" effect. People who have not experienced serious problems in their lives may be emotionally devastated when bad things finally happen to them. Likewise, she says, people who have had too hard a time are not able to cope well, either. "I met a woman years ago whose son had won every race he entered as a young boy," Silver says by way of illustration. "He was very gifted and just never lost at anything. When he was about 30, he had something bad happen to him, and he completely fell apart. His mother told me that she wished at some point that he had come in second in a race. She was basically saying that he had never learned to deal with adversity, and had not developed the requisite social and coping skills."

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