Personal Relationships and Health Malcolm Parks Excerpt from Parks’ book, Personal Relationships and Personal Networks. (2007).
Introduction• Parks proposes a relationship between the quality of an individual’s communication and their quality of life.• Parks examines existing research connecting interpersonal communication with five areas of physical and mental health.
Terminology• Study of Personal Well-Being: analyzes individual markers of quality of life – This includes; physical health, mental health, social adjustment, relationship satisfaction, and career success.
Five Aspects of Physical and Mental Health ① Social Skill Deficits ② Violence and Suicide ③ Cardiovascular Difficulties ④ Immune System Malfunctions ⑤ Risky Health Practices
① Social Skill Deficits• Definition: inability to perform appropriate and effective social behavior• Interpersonal relationships serve as the arena for developing or damaging social skills – Interactions with family and peers in childhood and adolescence are among the most important arena in which we develop social skills.• Social skills deficits can be broken down into three general types: – Skill Deficit – Performance Deficit – Self-Control Deficit• Social skills as “rolling laboratories”
① SS Deficits: Research Examples • “Children rejected by their parents, for example, are more likely to have difficulty regulating their own emotional expression and engaging in interaction.” • “Adolescents with a history of negative interactions with parents, for example, are more likely to behave coercively and abusively with dating partners years later.”
② Violence and Suicide• “Those with inadequate or dysfunctional personal relationships are particularly susceptible to violence, either by their own hand or the hands of others.” – “People in dysfunctional relationships are themselves more likely to be victims of violence.” – “Parental neglect and divorce are also precursors of violence and abuse in young adults romantic relationships.”
② Suicide• Divorced people have consistently higher suicide rates over the last 25 years than people who are married.• Studies show that being or feeling disconnected from friends or family has been proven to contribute to suicide• More broad studies support a link between suicide and inadequate or disordered personal relationships
② Violence• Violence in dating relationships is linked both to a history of family violence, and to having friends who treat their dating partners abusively.
③ Cardiovascular Difficulties• Poor personal relationships break people’s hearts— literally. – “Cardiovascular activity appears to be quite sensitive to changes in the nature of interpersonal communication.” – “Blood pressure changes less in reaction to stress…”• Cardiovascular disease is both more common and more likely to be fatal among people who experience high levels of family conflict, are divorced, separated, have few friends and/or have little involvement in in informal or formal groups.”
④ Immune System Malfunctions• “…disruptions in significant relationships cause significant disruptions in the immune system.”• These disruptions take effect in two ways: – Immunosuppression – Autoimmune Disease
a.) Immunosuppression“Immunosuppression is associated with a variety ofinterpersonal and psychological conditions includingdepression, loneliness, family conflict, role conflict,separation form family or peers, divorce, andbereavement.” (Kaplan)• Definition: low resistance to disease – The body’s ability to form an immune response to foreign cells or toxins entering it is greatly reduced• “Respiratory illness was 4x more common during periods of stressful family interaction than during less stressful periods.”
b.) Autoimmune Disease• Factors associated with derogatory or negative interpersonal communication are found to actually stimulate autoimmune diseases.• Definition: where the body mistakenly attacks itself – “The immune system fails to distinguish between itself and what is foreign.”• “As a lack of support worsens autoimmune disease, the disease itself limits social participation.”
⑤ Risky Health Practices• “Poor interpersonal relationships promote, or at least fail to discourage, risky and plainly destructive behavior.”• “Those lacking commitments to positive personal relationships are more prone to engage in risky activities or engage in activities in unsafe ways.”
⑤ Risky Health Practices• We all know someone who gets out of a long relationship and enjoys the single life just a little bit too much.• But just in case you don’t…here are a few examples of Georgia Southern students participating in risky health practices.
Exam Questions1. What does Parks mean when he refers to social skills as rolling laboratories?1. The impacts that quality of communication has on quality of life are repairable. How would you try to repair a negative impact in one the five mental and physical areas that Parks identifies?