We’re all familiar with midlife crisis from Gail Sheehy’s bestselling book Passages, and all the references made to it in cartoons, self-help books, movies, ads, and jokes. We’ve become so accustomed to thinking about midlife crisis, that many people cringe when they approach the age of 35 or 40, worried that they’re going to be clobbered by the ravages of midlife madness. However, research from the McArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development (MIDMAC) suggests that most people go through midlife without any great hoo-hah. “Almost everyone over 40 claims to have it, or knows someone who surely has it, but I do not think more than one person in ten is experiencing a genuine midlife crisis,” says Orville Gilbert Brim, director of the MIDMAC project. The findings from this research study suggests that for most people, midlife is not a crisis at all, but rather a series of gentler incremental changes that occur emotionally, socially, and physically over the course of several years. For more information about their study, see their book How Healthy Are We?: A National Study of Well-Being at Midlife.
For more on the developmental issues surrounding midlife, see my book The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life
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