The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life

The Human Odyssey:  Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life

If Life Is a Roller Coaster, Then This Book Is An Amusement Park Ride For It. So Strap Yourself In!

Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., an award-winning educator and expert on human development, offers a cross-cultural view of life's entire journey, from before birth to death to the possibilities of an afterlife. Dr. Armstrong cites both clinical research and anecdotal evidence in a comprehensive view of the challenges and opportunities we face at every stage of our development. His accessible narrative incorporates elements of history, literature, psychology, spirituality, and science in a fascinating guide to understanding our past as well as our future.

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About the Book

The Human Odyssey is an experiential guide to the 12 stages of life.  Each chapter takes you through a specific stage of life.  They include:

  • prebirth
  • birth
  • infancy
  • early childhood
  • middle childhood
  • late childhood
  • adolescence
  • young adulthood
  • midlife
  • mature adulthood
  • late adulthood
  • death and dying

I even have a chapter that explores the possibilities of life after death.  After all, there IS life after death.  It’s just a question of whether we’ll be a part of it or not!

Each chapter of the book contains information vital to each stage including scientific studies, excerpts from world literature, accounts by people going through that stage (yes, prebirth is accessible through hypnotic regression!), and specific steps for applying what you’ve learned about the stage to your own life, to the life of your friends and relations, and to the community as a whole.  In addition, each chapter highlights a particular ”gift” that that particular stage gives to humanity.  Here are the gifts:

  • Prebirth – Potential
  • Birth – Hope
  • Infancy (Ages 0-3) – Vitality
  • Early Childhood (Ages 3-6)  – Playfulness
  • Middle Childhood (Ages 6-8) – Imagination
  • Late Childhood (Ages 8-11) – Ingenuity
  • Adolescence (Ages 12–20) – Passion
  • Early Adulthood (Ages 20-35) – Enterprise
  • Midlife(Ages 35-50) – Contemplation
  • Mature Adulthood (Ages 50-80) – Benevolence
  • Late Adulthood (Ages 80+) Wisdom
  • Death and Dying – Life

For more about the 12 gifts of the human life cycle, see my article on it here.

The end of the book contains a comprehensive filmography of movies that deal with different aspects of the human life cycle from Orson Wells’ Citizen Kane to Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries. I also include a list of organizations that support each stage of life, and a section of notes providing sources for the material in the book.

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"Armstrong synthesizes an enormous amount of material from many fields and wisdom traditions to create a book that is fresh, provocative, and important. His holistic approach presents us with the largest possible map as we navigate across our own lives. Bravo, captain." — Mary Pipher Ph.D., author of ''Writing to Change the World'' and ''Reviving Ophelia''
"I cannot imagine anyone who will not benefit from this wise, beautifully written description of life's journey. If you are looking for encouragement, understanding, and strength, this is your book.'' Larry Dossey, M.D. author of and ''Healing Words'' and ''Healing Beyond the Body''
"Thomas Armstrong's The Human Odyssey is an extraordinary book; an intellectual feast. Armstrong has amassed and integrated an amazing amount of information from developmental and transpersonal psychology, modern consciousness research, biology, anthropology, mythology, and art, and created an extraordinary guide through all the stages of the adventure of human life. While the rich content of this book will impress professional audiences, it's clear and easy style makes it quite accessible to the general public." — Stanislav Grof, M.D., former Chief of Psychiatric Research, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center; author of ''Realms of the Human Unconscious,'' and ''Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy,' and ''Adventures in Self-Discovery''
"I loved this book. What a vast terrain it covers! I enjoyed the way it wove into each developmental stage a rich array of materials from Greek myths, Martin Buber, psychology, rituals, spirituality, and so many wonderful stories. As people read this book, they will be much more aware of the different stages of life and how they impact all of us personally and collectively." — Barbara Findeisen, President, The Association for Pre- & Perinatal Psychology and Health and creator of the documentary film, ''The Journey to Be Born,'' featured on Oprah
– Barbara Findeisen
"This is a thoroughly researched and beautifully written account of the story of human development. Drawing on the most recent scientific studies, as well as literature and films, mythology and major spiritual traditions, Armstrong shows the way to a truly integrated understanding of the complexities of the human life cycle." — Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., author of ''Maps of Consciousness'' and ''The Unfolding Self,'' co-author (with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert) of ''The Psychedelic Experience'', which was the inspiration for the Beatles' song "Tomorrow Never Knows"
– Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.
"An integral approach to human development, from birth to death, that provides practical information for all who see spirit interpenetrating all of life." — Michael Murphy, co-founder of the Esalen Institute and author of ''The Future of the Body,'' ''The Life We Are Given,'' and ''God and the Evolving Universe''
"The Human Odyssey provides readers with a fresh approach to developmental psychology. Dr. Armstrong has included a spiritual dimension of human growth that is lacking from most accounts but which is essential for a complete understanding of the human condition. It is a splendid, brilliant work." — Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., former president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, author of ''Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self,'' and co-editor of ''The Psychological Impact of War Trauma on Civilians: An International Perspective''
"Absolutely remarkable. The Human Odyssey is written with lively scholarship and contains great depth and breadth, a wide range of fascinating materials, and many useful resources. It's a kind of 'everything book.'" — George Leonard, "the granddaddy of the consciousness movement" (Newsweek) and author of ''The Transformation,'' and ''The Ultimate Athlete''
– George Leonard
"Extraordinary. I hope that it is read by many people." — Laura Archera Huxley, widow of Aldous Huxley, founder of Children: Our Ultimate Investment, and author of ''This Timeless Moment,'' and ''The Child of Your Dreams''
– Laura Archera Huxley
"I extend my congratulations to you for this monumental undertaking and wish you the very best for your impressive efforts." — Marian Diamond, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley; co-author of ''Magic Trees of the Mind''; pioneer researcher into the effect of the environment on brain development; dissected Einstein's brain
– Marian Diamond, Ph.D.
"I have read through The Human Odyssey. It is in many ways impressive. I also think that it has great commercial potential. Many people will find attractive your dual focus on the scientific and the soul/spiritual dimensions." — Howard Gardner, Ph.D., The John H. and Elizabeth A. Hobbs Professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of ''Frames of Mind''
"The Human Odyssey is superb, magnificent, astonishing, unique, engrossing, eminently readable, informative, enjoyable, entertaining, profound. What else? I could go on. I hadn't expected anything like so remarkable a book." — Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of ''The Crack in the Cosmic Egg'' and ''Magical Child''
"I loved the tone, the pacing, the sense of audience, and especially the richness of the associations . . . It's a book that one would like to keep around — a guidebook even." — John Kotre Ph.D., co-author of ''Seasons of Life: The Dramatic Journey from Birth to Death''
"This is truly a major contribution — brilliant, beguiling, and as broad in concept as it is deep." — Jean Houston, Ph.D. author of ''The Possible Human'' and ''A Mythic Life''
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