The Health and Adverse Life Experiences (HALE) survey was conducted in 2017. It is closed and results are now available starting here.
The HALE survey is for everyone who wants to help reduce, resolve or reverse chronic illness and other health conditions.
It’s for anyone who has ever wished their doctor really understood the latest science of how adversity affects health; who knew it wasn’t psychological; and who knew of tools that help people with difficult diseases get better, even when they have a diagnosis with no currently known cure.
You could take this survey regardless of whether you had a chronic health condition or were in good health. I especially needed your responses if you had good health for comparison purposes and to better understand potential protective factors.
The HALE survey was anonymous, took about 30 to 50 minutes to complete, and did not require an email.
Get the Analysis & Study Results
You can opt to get all posts on adverse life experiences and chronic illness along with the HALE survey results. This will include notifications when I create a more detailed database so that you can participate and help change the face of medicine.
You can instead subscribe to receive only posts related to surveys. These will include the HALE survey results and future updates when I create the database and add surveys.
Purpose of the HALE Pilot Study
Answers and results give you an idea of whether life events may have affected your health. This means there are tools that can help you heal their effects and decrease symptoms of chronic illness (see links at the bottom of the page for resources).
Your responses will also help change how we understand and work with chronic illness. It will further validate the emerging new paradigm of disease and help me design a more detailed database.
This pilot study and the future database support one of my long-term goals to improve medical care. I want to inspire and inform doctors and other health care professionals about the role of adverse life experiences so they can help prevent illness, catch early warning signs, believe and understand their patients, and help people recover with compassion.
Your responses in this pilot study also offered a glimpse as to why some people with a history of trauma develop health problems when others do not.
It’s Not “Psychological,” It’s Epigenetic
Health care focuses on emotional causes of emotional health conditions and physical causes of physical health conditions.
As a result, research in trauma generally examines effects of adverse life experiences only on mental health.
There’s a need for a closer look at the role of adverse life experiences in chronic physical illness because life experiences affect our genes and have a wide range of effects on health. It’s about this process of epigenetics rather than about psychology.
Types of Adverse Life Experiences
The following types of trauma are all known to increase risk for chronic illness and other health conditions. I asked about them in the HALE pilot survey.
Therapist Mark Wolynn works with the effects of trauma that happened in our anestors’ lives – events such as World War II and the Holocaust, surviving betrayal, witnessing horror, or a parent who never recovered from the loss of a child or a miscarriage. He describes how multigenerational trauma affects kids and grandkids and how it heals,
Many of us walk around with trauma symptoms we can’t explain. Whether sudden onset or chronic, we have anxieties, depressions or obsessive thoughts we’ve never gotten to the bottom of. We never think to connect our personal issue to what’s happened to our parents or grandparents. We’re now learning that traumas experienced by previous generations can be biologically inherited …
His book “It Didn’t Start With You” is a powerful resource that offers guidelines for healing symptoms even if you do not think there is any history of trauma in your relatives’ lives.
Adverse Events in Pregnancy, Birth and Infancy
When mothers have adverse life experiences before or during pregnancy, when giving birth or in the first two years of their children’s lives it can be traumatizing, both for moms and for their babies. Such events can also shape the long-term health of their children. I refer to this type of trauma as adverse babyhood experiences or “ABEs.”
ABEs are not a mother’s fault but the result of how adverse life experiences affect our nervous systems as well as our childrens’. This happens through epigenetics.
Adversity in Childhood
The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study looked at 10 specific types of trauma including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect, dysfunction in the household and loss of a parent. These types of adverse life experiences greatly increase risk for chronic health conditions as well as substance abuse and more Other kinds of trauma in childhood, many of which are much more subtle, have also been found to be risk factors for chronic illness (hospitalizations, falls, being bullied, growing up in an unsafe neighbourhood etc). You can find approaches for healing this type of trauma on my Books and Therapies page.
Parent-Child Relationship Trauma & Complex PTSD
Jennifer Aniston talks about her relationship with her mom who was very critical of her, “I thought I wasn’t smart. I just couldn’t retain anything,” she mused. “Now (after being diagnosed with dyslexia during an eye exam), I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained.”
Aniston’s story is an example of the most invisible type of adverse life experience that affects health. It’s the hardest to recognize and easy to explain away because it’s all we’ve known.
Justin Timberlake shares what he discovered about his own trauma as a new parent: “”You go through your life with your own traumas, big and small, and think, ‘It’s not that bad, I have a lot to be thankful for, my parents did the best they could,’”… “But then you have a child of your own, and suddenly it opens all the floodgates, and you’re like, ‘No, no, no! That childhood trauma really did f–k me up!'” You will find approaches for healing this type of trauma on my Books and Therapies page.
Trauma has many effects
Gabor Mate in an interview:
Addiction isn’t the only outcome of trauma. If you look at the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, it clearly shows that the more trauma there is, the greater the risk for addiction, exponentially so. Of course, there are traumatized people who don’t become addicts. You know what happens to them? They develop depression or anxiety, or they develop autoimmune disease, or any number of other outcomes. Or if they’re fortunate enough and get enough support in life to overcome the trauma, then they might not develop anything at all.
Books, Therapies & More Info
The following link to lists of well-respected authors and approaches, even if they are not yet well-known in medicine.
- Therapies for healing different types of trauma (includes links to find someone near you)
- Summary of the science about different types of trauma and how they affect risk
- Free ebooks on the effects of trauma
- List of Books for learning about adversity and risk for disease
- Risk factors in early life: Adverse Babyhood Experiences (ABEs)
- The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and how trauma in childhood affects risk