Lesson 3. Psychosocial Development in Middle AdulthoodObjectives:After completing the lesson, the learner will be able to:General:Describe, identify and evaluate the theories of midlife, the ways thatpeople have relationships, and the world of work.Specific:a. Evaluate the notion of the midlife crisis.b. Define kinkeeping and the impact of caregiving.c. Describe Erikson’s stage of generativity vs. stagnationd. Describe family relationships and goal livinng in midlife.e. Discuss work related issues in midlife.Discussion:
Psychosocial DevelopmentMidlife crisis?Levinson found that the men he interviewed sometimes had difficulty reconciling the“dream” they held about the future with the reality they now experience. “What do I really getfrom and give to my wife, children, friends, work, community-and self?” a man might ask(Levinson, 1978). Midlife transition include 1) ending early adulthood; 2) reassessing life in thepresent and making modifications if needed; and 3) reconciling “polarities” or contradictions inones sense of self. Perhaps, early adulthood ends when a person no longer seeks adult status-butfeels like a full adult in the eyes of others. This ‘permission’ may lead to different choices in life;choices that are made for self-fulfillment instead of social acceptance. While people in their early20s may emphasize how old they are (to gain respect, to be viewed as experienced), by the timepeople reach their 40s, they tend to emphasize how young they are. (Few 40-year olds cut eachother down for being so young: “You’re only 43? I’m 48!!”)This new perspective on time brings about a new sense of urgency to life. The personbecomes focused more on the present than the future or the past. The person grows impatient atbeing in the “waiting room of life” postponing doing the things they have always wanted to do.Now is the time. If it’s ever going to happen, it better happens now. A previous focus on thefuture gives way to an emphasis on the present. Neugarten (1968) notes that in midlife, people nolonger think of their lives in terms of how long they have lived. Rather, life is thought of in termsof how many years are left. If an adult is not satisfied at midlife, there is a new sense of urgencyto start to make changes now.Changes may involve ending a relationship or modifying one’s expectations of apartner. These modifications are easier than changing the self (Levinson, 1978). Midlife is aperiod of transition in which one holds earlier images of the self while forming new ideas aboutthe self of the future. A greater awareness of aging accompanies feelings of youth. And harm thatmay have been done previously in relationships haunts new dreams of contributing to the well-being of others. These polarities are the quieter struggles that continue after outward signs of“crisis” have gone away.
Levinson characterized midlife as a time of developmental crisis. However, research
suggests that most people in the United States today do not experience a midlife crisis and that,in fact, many women find midlife a freeing, satisfying period. Results of a 10 year study