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Psychological Influences of Midlife Transition in Men Essay

Understanding human development has, for quite a time, concentrated on childhood and adolescence and it took some time for researchers to shift considerably on exploring adulthood. This does not indicate however that there is a dearth of data about specific facets of the adult life (e. g. marriage, life expectancy, occupation, retirement, etc. ). Still, one may consider that there is a very restricted understanding of the basic principles of adult development.

Consider for example one significant phase in the adult life cycle, specifically that which has been acknowledged as the “midlife” crisis. Isn’t it a fact that individuals, in one point of their lives, regardless of the phase they are in, experience critical moments? Perhaps we should consider the “midlife” as a transition or a common phase in an individual’s life as Dr. Fred Horowitz, an executive coach who has worked with hundreds of business owners, executives and professionals assisting them in the transition process sees this phenomenon.

One may assert nonetheless that this stage is one of the most critical stages in an individual’s life cycle, next to adolescence, since individuals experiencing crisis during the midlife transition may end up re-living the extreme options to the crisis a particular individual is experiencing at that particular time. Passage to this phase of the life cycle may well be considered of equal importance as the understanding of separation anxiety of a two-year old or the questions on identity and self-expression commonly experienced by the adolescent.

The midlife transition is developmental and inherently built into the structure of the personality and the Self. It is Psychological Influences 3 at this phase that the deepest inner strivings of the soul press for expression, even if that expression threatens a well-structured world and sense of identity. As much as undergoing the “midlife” transition” is inevitable, so is the recognition that in spite of the confusing and serious psychological influences that accompany this phase in the life cycle, an understanding leading to acceptance of these facts, can serve as a threshold for growth and change.

In this connection, I have found two articles that provide insights on what could be considered debilitating psychological effects of man’s passage to this particular phase in the life cycle: 1) Les Brown, H. (November 09, 2008). “Is the Man in the Mirror a Fraud,” and 2) an article titled, “Crisis in Middle Adulthood: Age 45- 65. ” Both articles describe this transitional phase, where the man who could not overcome the pressures accompanying the transition, puts on a “psychological defense mechanism.

” L. Brown refers to such response as projection. On the other hand, “Crisis in Midlife Adulthood,” points to “stagnation” or “self-absorption” as a direct psychological response of an individual undergoing this transition. Les Brown, while positioning his article on a latest book titled, “Irritable Male Syndrome,” written by Dr. Jed Diamond, centers on the family as he considers it as the main context in which this male psychological response to midlife transition is most discernible.

He rationalizes that in this context where a man experiences the most intimate relationships is where he is also most vulnerable— “When a guy’s inner world starts to come unglued, the first to notice it are those who love him. ” As a result, the man ‘projects’ a personality that is entirely different to what he really is in real life as the Psychological Influences 4 ‘midlife male’ sees all around him in his most intimate surroundings reflections of his own (supposed) shortcomings.

” The process continues: 1) the male perceives a reality (which is assumed to have been distorted by his present psychological state) and assumes that such circumstance poses a threat to his personality; 2) as he moves from the source of the reflection he carries and projects a self-image (presumably to defend himself of being unmasked of his real emotional state); 3) his significant others perceive the obvious change however are uncertain of what is really going on with the “midlife male. ” They try to act out as what is the “midlife male” tries to picture to them as what should be their response to his behavior.

The “midlife male” still sees such behavior in a different perspective. The seemingly unending and continuous empowering of “cultural bias, faulty assumptions, and dysfunctional belief,” results to the “midlife males” feeling of “shame. ” Les Brown ends with a reminder to the “midlife males” who are in constant struggle as they try to understand the transition phase. He provided an analogy of the “reflection process” to the literal “mirroring” act— what the person is seeing is “exactly the person [his] going to need to confront, and, in spite of [his] fears, he’s not a fraud…[rather] he is the person [you’d] need to know for the first time.

” He ends by pointing out the imperative nature of this life cycle that one’s reaction to the process may undeniably shape what the person will become afterwards. Though the presentation of the writer’s ideas relative to “midlife transition” is obviously clear and lucid, however, his earlier attribution to a recent writing on the subject did not make him as credible as the author he earlier referred to. It sounded much Psychological Influences 5

more of marketing strategy than a call for credibility. It would have been better had he presented his ideas first then anchored them on not just one reference, which would made him sound more authoritative on the subject –matter. The second article, alternatively presents a general understanding on middle adulthood, specifically the “crises” that both genders experienced during the midlife transition. A brief characterization of the “crises” experienced by the two sexes were delineated in the article.

At the end, however, the writer differentiated two models that apparently “explain such events as the midlife transition and the midlife crisis. ” Such transition seems illogical and unnecessary and made the presentation of the articles idea unclear. I would consider the second article rather loose since it presents a number of although related thoughts do not present a holistic clarification of what these separately identifiable elements are. A little explanation on different aspects in the subject (middle adulthood) made his presentation unacceptable.

Ideas were presented from the specific to the general, but the relatedness as well as the transition from one of the sub-topics to another could not be considered conclusive of foregoing statements. Also the fact that there was no reference to the author or other authority on the subject (except for Erickson, though reference to authority was not rationally done) made the presentation less acceptable. In conclusion, both articles although to some extent served their purpose as being content articles could not be considered successful in providing new insights in the subject matter.

Finally, in a word of hyper-mediation, which is the primary facet of the Psychological Influences 6 Web and the internet, writers as those specified here, should have maximized what their medium could offer (though this is not part of the review, I still consider this part and parcel of that which contributes to the efficiency of the distribution of specific content to its intended audience). As such hyperlinks may have been considered in presenting the articles they have written. References:

Les Brown, H. (November 09, 2008). “Is the Man in the Mirror a Fraud? ” Retrieved April 06, 2009 from Midlife Mastery Website: http://www. midlifemaster. net/2008/11/for-the-past-few-days-ive-been-reading-dr- jed-diamonds-newest-book-the-irritable-male-syndrome-with-rapt-attention-in- adv. html CliffsNotes. com. Crisis in Middle Adulthood: Age 45–65. Retrieved April 06, 2009 from Cliffnotes Website: http://www. cliffsnotes. com/WileyCDA/CliffsReviewTopic/topicArticleId- 26831,articleId-26814. html


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