When it comes to negative experiences in childhood, the body seems to keep score. But even small changes can positively affect health in later life.

(Featured photo: Flickr / Simpleinsomnia)

It started with a slip of the tongue. 

In 1985, Vincent Felitti was running a weight loss clinic in San Diego, California, when he began to notice something strange. The treatment was successful – patients were definitely losing weight – but the physician was perplexed by the high dropout rate. Why would someone who had worked so hard suddenly let it all go?

Felitti was going through a routine set of questions one day*, with a patient. Donna, 53 at the time, had lost up to 100lb** before rapidly putting them back on. Felitti meant to ask: “How old were you when you first became sexually active?” Instead what came out was: “How much did you weigh when you became sexually active?”
(*This anecdote is taken from the book The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris, who interviewed Felitti personally. I reached out to Felitti and his study partner Robert Anda directly, but they have not responded to me. If they do, I will invite them to take part in the conversation below, so make sure to leave your questions.
The Deepest Well)
(**100lbs is the equivalent of 45kg)

“40lb”*, Donna replied.
(*40lbs is the equivalent of 18kg.)

Felitti thought there was a mistake, so he asked again. Th…

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