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A risk is an exposure to danger. Risk is vulnerability taken to its most extreme. Taking a risk means taking a leap of, perhaps of faith, ready to fully accept the consequences on the other side. Risk-taking is a personality trait all people have because the human design has to include risks. Risky, thrill-seeking, or impulsive behavior is risk-taking gone awry. Some people are more prone to taking extreme, dangerous, reckless risks without considering the consequences. Others are reserved and take their risks selectively after careful analysis. The ability to think something through before taking a risk can be influenced by various factors, like a mental illness or an addiction. New research from the University of Wisconsin- Madison indicates that risk taking in young adulthood might be influenced by the experience of childhood trauma. More than 50 people were recruited for the study, all around the age of 20, Pacific Standard Magazine reports. The young adults who had experienced “extreme stress” in their childhoods had an impaired ability to make good decisions as adults.

Not all of the young adults in the study had been exposed to trauma. Some had experienced little to no trauma and others had extreme experiences of trauma in their lives. These two extremes of trauma experience were of interest to the researchers. Participants were engaged in risk-taking activities, like a simulated gambling situation. Researchers wanted to examine how the participants responded to the idea of risk, the reward of risk-taking, and the punishment which could follow a poor decision. Clues were given as to what they outcome might be and brain scans were conducted during the activities.

Participants who did not have the experience of trauma in their childhood were more attuned to the clues they were given and made smarter decisions, compared to their cohorts who experienced extreme trauma. Those who had grown up with trauma, “…would, for instance, choose the shape that they had been warned against—and make the mistake again and again. They also took a great deal of time agonizing over decisions, and when they lost they became markedly upset,” the magazine writes.

The brain scans interestingly revealed that the participants who had experienced childhood trauma had low activity during the decision making and high activity after the decision making. Not having given the obvious clues consideration, or been able to according to brain function capabilities, the outcomes are more surprising and upsetting, the lead researcher noted.

Children who experience trauma grow up to be adults who have experienced trauma. Numerous brain imaging studies have revealed that the brain is structurally affected by trauma. Risk taking impairment can lead to substance abuse, process addictions, and other self-defeating coping mechanisms, common to untreated trauma. Studies like these continue to give us insight into the trauma process and better inform us for treatment and recovery moving forward.

Call The Guest House Ocala today for information on our residential treatment programs for traumas, addictions, and related mental health issues: 1-855-483-7800