Sometimes I hear people say things that appear to be absurd and without any factual foundation, and yet other people accept the statements and add their own supportive experiences to prove that the absurd ideas are valid. I’ve wondered at this effect many times. What seems to be happening is the supporting of an affirmation of positive feelings and a dissing of any negative feelings. It seems to be easy to say outlandish things with enthusiasm, but difficult to talk about tested experimental facts with positive enthusiasm. This is true for inherently negative things; for example, the Adverse Childhood Experience test (ACE test) has a lot of positive lessons to be learned but the test itself is terribly negative. It is based on ten yes or no questions about bad experiences had before the age of eighteen, such as, “Did a member of your household go to prison?” It is difficult for people to answer those kinds of negative questions.
I have tried to talk about the test and the value it has for helping people understand why they might be having problems. Unfortunately, people don’t like to think in a direct way about negative things, and prefer to reframe problems into an abstract set of positive things they can do something about, like “positive affirmations!” That approach probably helps some, but until they cut the repetitive cycles of self-recriminations their problems will probably reassert their ugly qualities.
That problem is beautifully reported in the book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance. In my review, I mentioned that he missed the critical point in his book. He barely mentions that his mother was raised by an abusive alcoholic father and she became a sufferer of major ACE trauma. But her father totally rejected alcohol and became an exemplary grandfather to J.D. and the boy grew to be an exemplary man himself.
The ACE test is a good example of a negative thing which can have very positive results because it serves as a guide to what kind of behaviors to avoid. I developed that idea into the Positive Childhood Experience test (PCE test) which is a guide to the kind of behaviors that should be cultivated. How to Improve your ACE test score.
This chart compares negative and positive things that could happen to a child. The PCE test is a simple flip of the ACE test. It states a way to treat a child that will help him grow into a healthy adult. The PCE is placed side by side with the ACE to make obvious what shouldn’t be done and what should be done. Even this may prove to be too negative as a way to communicate to those who most need to think about these things.
Even positive things, when mentioned with balancing negative ones, may be too harsh for people to appreciate.