Just in case you think is more psycho-babble ‘blame the parents/childhood’ stuff, let me tell you about the study that the ACE theories and conclusions have come from.
‘The original ACE Study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997 with two waves of data collection. Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors.’ https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html
The study was actually of 17,337 participants, who were volunteers from approximately 26,000 private health insurance members. About half of the participants were female, almost 75% were white and the average age was 57. 75.2% had attended college, all had jobs and good health care, because they were members of the Kaiser. We are not talking about deprived backgrounds and dangerous home lives here, these were solidly middle class people so the results were not skewed by poverty or racial discrimination.
There has never been a study like this before or since!
And it’s results show, to me at least, that this happens to almost everyone, the results are undeniable and even worse if such a study were to be conducted in deprived areas, the results would probably show much higher correlation between ACEs and adult life outcomes.
Did you ever experience childhood trauma?
Before you say no, let me define childhood trauma.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, childhood trauma is defined as: “The experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.”
What in particular is an Adverse Childhood Experience?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood.
The 10 Adverse Childhood Experiences which appear on the official ACE Quiz include:
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Physical Neglect
- Emotional Neglect
- Parents divorced or separated
- Domestic Violence
- Parent or caregiver addicted to drugs or alcohol
- Parent or caregiver who is depressed or mentally ill
- Household member ever been incarcerated
And here’s the thing….
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have a tremendous impact on future violence victimisation and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.
And they’re common. For example, 28% of study participants reported physical abuse and 21% reported sexual abuse. Many also reported experiencing a divorce or parental separation, or having a parent with a mental and/or substance use disorder.
They often occur together. Almost 40% of the original sample reported two or more ACEs and 12.5% experienced four or more. Because ACEs occur in clusters, many subsequent studies have examined the cumulative effects of ACEs rather than the individual effects of each.
They impact adult health, social and behavioural outcomes. As researchers followed participants over time, they discovered that a person’s cumulative ACEs score has a strong, graded relationship to numerous health, social, and behavioural problems throughout their lifespan, including mental illness, substance use disorders and failing in life.