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The Midlife Crisis

Research on the subject of the midlife crisis is relatively new, having only come into serious attention within the last fifteen years (Quadrio, 1986). It is important, however, that this be vital and energetic research agenda since the demographic data indicates that an increasing amount of the American population is aging and whose median age will be centered around the middle years (Dannefer, 1984). Thus, the literature may be grouped into four categories relating to the crisis situation felt by many as the middle years approach: mental health, marriage and the family, social and personal responsibilities, and that which compares/contrasts gender and social roles in middle age.

The actual age at which midlife begins is somewhat disputed. The range of ages runs from 30 to 60, and may change with differences in gender, race, attitude, health, and psychological makeup (Costa, 1986; Schlossberg, 1986). Moreover, as early as 1979 Fiske (1979, p.23) proclaimed that "middle age is a state of mind."

One of the clearest contradictions within both the popular and academic literature is whether middle age is a peak period of life or the "typical" remark that after forty life begins its downward slide. For example, many people opt to change careers at midlife, some because their own selfesteem has waned, others because they find that they are not longer perceived as integral members of their workplace (Ochberg, 1988). Other research shows a burgeoning problem in which labor and market pressures act in congruence to force middle aged adults out of the labor force and into early retirement (Boaz, 1987). Still other adults find that a change of career intensifies their own drives and provides positive satisfaction and a new outlook on life. This is particularly evident when the person in question leaves either a corporate or institutional setting for either private practice or their own business (Coche and Coche, 1986). Women, how...

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The Midlife Crisis. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:53, September 22, 2023, from