Middle Adulthood Life Crisis
Midlife crisis is the problem experienced by people at the age of 40-60. It is connected with the reassessment of all that has been achieved during one’s life time. People often reject or destroy what was sought for years, or in what they invested a lot of effort. As a rule, the difference between dreams and goals in life of a person and his/ her real state is recognized by the age of forty. If twenty-year-old people are regarded as promising, forty-year-olds are expected to fulfil promises given a long time ago. The acuteness of the crisis depends on various factors. For instance, for ambiguous people with high level of claims, overcoming the midlife crisis is more complicated compared to others. Many people try to move the youth psychology across the threshold of maturity, which, eventually, appears to be the cause of neurosis. Midlife crisis represents a crucial problem for adults as physical strength, vital energy and sexual attractiveness decrease.
Decrease of physical strength and attractiveness are one of the main problems faced by the people during the midlife crisis. For those who rely on their physical qualities, the middle age may be a period of severe depression. Many people complain that they start to get tired too often. Although a well thought-out program of daily exercise and proper diet exert their positive effects, most people in middle age are beginning to rely more and more on the “brains” rather than “muscles.” They find new advantages in knowledge and acquire wisdom from their accumulating experience. The second main issue of middle age is sexuality. Some deviations in the interests, abilities, and opportunities appear in life of the middle-aged person, especially as his/her children grow up. Many people are amazed how sexuality played a much larger role in their relationships with people when they were younger.
There are many symptoms of midlife crisis. One of the most common symptoms are “depression, self-pity, exinanition, feeling of a trap concerning career or marriage, and feeling that life is unfair” (Shek 390). The person tends to reject the progress, despite the positive assessment of the achievements by surrounding people. The loss of interest to many previously meaningful aspects of life can be observed. The opinion of random people becomes more meaningful. Change of values may also occur. In some cases, the person may behave in a bizarre way in order to attract the attention and make sure that he/ she is still important for the others.
During midlife crisis, people experience wide range of feelings and implement different types of behaviors. They may search for unidentified goal or dream. In the worst case, the person may “remorse because of unachieved goals” (Becker 93). At work, a fear of humiliation may appear, as some colleagues are more successful than the others. Generally, people spend more time with certain peers or alone. Talking about behaviors, the person may start drinking alcohol. People can make various extravagant or expensive purchases, such as motorbikes, clothing boats, tattoos, sports cars, gadgets, jewelry and piercings. As youth is gradually receding, high attention is paid to physical appearance. For instance, a man may try to cover baldness, while a woman would wear youthful designer clothes. Another common behavior is entering in a relationship with younger people. Sometimes, it can be parental, sexual, and professional at the same time. Those who do not start an affair place over-importance on their children. Parents want their children to excel in areas such as arts, sports, or academics. It may be psychologically damaging for children, as parents try to embody their untapped potential with help of the latter.
The notion of the midlife crisis can be found in many works of psychologists and scientists. The followers of Sigmund Freud were the ones who started to implement the notion of midlife crisis. They believed that the person’s thoughts during middle age were provoked by the fear of impending death (“Midlife Crisis”). Another example is Jungian theory. The midlife was considered to be the key to individuation. It is a process of self-awareness and self-actualization that contains many paradoxes. It is important to point out that Carl Jung did not examine midlife crisis, but the described “midlife integration of sensation, thinking, intuition, and feeling that leads to a confusion of a person’s life” in comparison to his/ her goals (“Middle Crisis”). As previously stated, the latter is one of the most common characteristics of the midlife crisis. In Eric Erikson’s life stages, the signs of crisis can be seen in the Generativity vs Stagnation conflict. Difficulties in the area of production may include excessive identification with the child, unwillingness to let go of the children, a desire to protest, as a way of solving stagnation, and depletion of private life (Becker 89). Those adults, who fail to become productive, gradually move into a state of self-absorption, when the main subject of concern is their own personal needs and comforts. With the loss of productivity, the person’s functioning as an active member of society ceases. Such phenomenon is expressed in a sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness of life.
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The consent in middle age requires considerable flexibility. One important type of flexibility includes the ability to change emotional investment from person to person and from activity to activity. Emotional flexibility is needed at any age, but in the middle age it becomes particularly important, as parents die, children grow up and leave home. Inability to emotional recoil with respect to new people and new activities leads to this kind of stagnation described by Erickson. Another kind of flexibility also required is a spiritual flexibility. Among middle-aged people there is a known tendency to “increasing rigidity in their views and actions” (Kruger 1302). Such people merely close their minds to new ideas. Such mental closeness should be overcome or it will grow into intolerance and fanaticism. In addition, strict mental rules lead to errors and inability to perceive creative solutions to problems.