The central question was whether Positive Childhood Experiences (PCE) cancel out Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). The chart below has both questionnaires with questions printed in parallel for easy comparison. A printable PDF ACE-PCE test
The first question on this chart was about parental verbal support in front of other people. Some parents were reported to do a quite a bit of condemning and praising, and others were reported to never do either. These must be looked at in a more studied way, but it would seem that a parent doing either praise or blame would translate into the child considering himself valued either way. It would seem preferable to be yelled at and condemned rather than being totally ignored. In the extreme case, babies being ignored results in a diseased emotional condition where they wither and die. The Merck Manual discusses this under physical, emotional and sexual abuse. For this question the two do not cancel each other out, and may be supportive of each other.
The second question seems like an emphasized version of the first, where physical abuse or praise supports and amplifies the verbal ones. Although the behaviors are quite different the emotional effect of both emphasizes the value of the growing child, even when it is hostile, in his own self perception.
The third question of sexual abuse by an older person is a form of taking responsibility away from a child, and the positive opposite is giving responsibility to them. It seems possible, but unlikely, to have encountered both of these behaviors from the same older person. Giving responsibility to a child empowers his growth, and taking it away weakens him. This may be a key predictor of emotional growth.
The fourth question emphasizes one’s abstract value to the world and ability to do worthwhile things, so being encouraged with this would make one into a socially productive person. Being discouraged when one does something productive would be encouraging the child to be nonproductive. These questions have the same dimension of psychological push, so they do cancel each other so the child goes one way or the other.
The fifth question about physical care, like eating, clothing, housing, and protection seem to be directly opposite; either the caregiver treated the child well or failed to provide for him. This would be a linear scale of excellently cared for, verses psychologically abandoned. Just having abundance of food doesn’t mean abundance of emotional growth.
The sixth question is about the parents providing a role model for interpersonal cooperation, and also seems to be a linear scale from super supportive to avoidance. Growing up with supportive people around gives one the courage to explore as well as to be productive.
The seventh question is about response to problems in the household and if they were resolved by dominating violence or cooperative verbal agreement to acceptable solutions. This is another linear scale. It develops the power to think through problems rather than just reacting with the first emotion that arises.
Eight. Were there persons in the household who solved their problems by sedating themselves with alcohol or drugs, or were problems solved with helpful actions? That implies that the coping strategies of others was poor, and being close to them sets a poor model to follow, and those unthinking people tend to respond with avoidance or violence.
Nine. Were there household members who were seriously depressed or others who worked to alleviate other people’s suffering? Depression comes with poor coping with the problems that come along, and it is worsened by weakening the ability to cope with alcohol and instant reactions such as violence.
Ten. Did a household member go to prison or receive a public award? This is a case where a person might do both. They might be successful because they were cheating, and sometimes cheaters get caught and are then called criminals. The self made billionaires and Nobel Laureates I’ve encountered had the outstanding quality of enthusiasm, but that might also be said of major criminals.
It seems that for most children growing up with the adverse childhood experiences that had YES/NO test results, that were extreme enough to be a clearly event, probably wouldn’t have much experience of events that were at the other end of their respective scales. I blogged last week about Barbara Ehrenreich, who is an extremely successful author. She seemed to have had a childhood that was both horribly physically negative and yet demanding of excellent performance, but without much reward for superior performance. have heard and read reports of people who had zero on their ACE and near ten on their PCE who are accused of being boring. Perhaps they were low IQ people that were, because of their low intelligence, thrown in with the common mass of struggling people, and their normally intelligenced brethren with good PCE’s had moved on to lifestyles where they lived quietly with unremarkable but successful lives.
I would like to meet people who have low ACE and high PCE scores.