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Do childhood experiences determine behavior in later life?
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Adverse childhood experiences affect adult personality traits

Victims of maltreatment and neglect in their early years are likely to develop traits in adulthood that are greatly influenced by experiences during crucial development years.
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The Argument

The experience of maltreatment in early years directly affects the development of the brain, which is highly impressionable. Maltreatment encompasses phenomena from emotional manipulation and neglect to physical abuse. These things may impact how a child develops in adulthood, especially concerning the type of person that they become and which characteristics they adopt. This is because such adverse childhood experiences negatively affect the development of areas of the brain which, among other things, monitor and regulate emotions and behaviour. [1] The struggle to regulate emotions and behaviour manifests as mental and physical health problems, such as anxiety and volatile emotional states, which directly affect personality development in both early and later years. While it may not be that all adults who have had turbulent childhood experiences develop mental health problems, the effect of maltreatment on the brain is such that this development is a possibility. If we consider exposure to extreme stress for example, studies have shown that individuals who merely witnessed domestic violence in the home between parents, and were not necessarily immediate victims of physical abuse, tend to score lower on IQ tests and thus have lower intelligence later in life. [2] So, adverse childhood experiences certainly influence adult traits and behaviour. The experiences correlate with the existence of mental and physical health problems in adults who either witnessed or experienced maltreatment while growing up. It is not the case that these traits and behaviours are determined as, for example, the possibility to seek help through therapies in early years exist.

Counter arguments

Adverse experiences of abuse and adult behaviour are correlated because they may share the same cause. While it may appear that the former is the cause of specific instances of the latter, it is possible that they both stem from another factor within a child’s life. For example, a parent-child relationship could be affected by a low socioeconomic status. This status could cause the parent to neglect their child due to an inability to provide for and cater to their needs, which in turn negatively impacts their development. This would mean that the factor that influences adult behaviour is not necessarily the early year parent-child relationship but more so being raised in a low socioeconomic household which determined the relationship dynamic. [3]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020 at 05:58 UTC

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