THE LONGEVITY PROJECT: Parental divorce during childhood reliable predictor of early death in adults
The WSJ ran a review of this book, The Longevity Project a couple of days ago. It’s authored by these two
sociologists psychologists Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin. And so, they conducted this study on a bunch of middle-class white guys with high IQs. Well, Friedman and Martin took over the study which was commenced by this psychologist Lewis Terman in 1921, in 1990. (Terman’s the guy who came up with the Stanford-Binet IQ Test, btw.) And so they found some interesting factors that contribute to longevity and it turns out that a parental divorce was a pretty reliable predictor of early death in adults. Also, a person’s own divorce and marriage break up was also a risk factor for early death.
The respondents to the study who fared best in the longevity sweepstakes tended to have a fairly high level of physical activity, a habit of giving back to the community, a thriving and long-running career, and a healthy marriage and family life. They summoned resilience against reverses and challenges— including divorce, loss of a spouse, career upsets and war trauma. By contrast, those with the darkest dispositions—catastrophizers, who viewed every stumble as a calamity—were most likely to die sooner. (The book doesn’t say by what margin; a study published in 1998 reported that men in the Terman group were 25% more likely to die by age 65 if they were catastrophizers.)
Of course, even if you’re parents did not divorce and you are what’s called a “catastrophizer” you also have a risk of dying young. So for example, if you looked at the recent crop of stuff that’s been happening: massive earthquakes, tsnunamis, tornadoes in weird places, dead fish in the millions showing up on scenic coasts, terrorism, uprisings across entire continents, record heat, record cold, record snow, natural fires, health plagues like AIDS, global drug addiction/trafficking, corruption of religious leaders, political corruption, global financial collapses, swine flu, and the like – as a sort of “end of times” rather than just one of those things? You will likely die young too.
So, the takeaway? Just go with it. You will live a lot longer…..if you’re not middle-
aged class white male with a high IQ? Not exactly sure what it means for you. But you probably don’t count anyways. 🙂
Check out the book if you get a chance.