Friday, January 30, 2015

Midlife Crisis; Fact or Myth ?

A Google search on “midlife” will give over 6 million results, 99 percent of them pertaining to the “midlife crisis”. Somehow midlife has become synonomous with a crisis! What is a “midlife crisis”? Does every middle aged person have a crisis at that time in their lives?

The popular and largely caricatured perception of a midlife crisis is a middle aged guy “behaving badly”, trying to hide his anxiety and fear of growing older. Buying a flashy sports car, newfound attention to health and appearence, cheating on the wife, quitting a job and divorce have been considered the hallmarks of the midlife crisis. Please notice that the midlife crisis is almost exclusively attributed to men and there is very little mention of the midlife crisis of women.

How many 50 year old guys do you know that suddenly quits their jobs, grows a ponytail, gets a tatoo, buys a “Harley” and drives off into the sunset with a bimbo?

So what is the “midlife crisis” and how prevalent is it?

 The term “midlife crisis” was coined by the Canadian psycholoanalyst Elliott Jacques in 1965. Jacques defines the period of 40 to 60 as a time where the individual realizes their own mortality and gets the feeling that time is running out.

Reflection upon ones life in middle age is quite common. The average person may have such thoughts on occasion but very few actually brood on the subject to eventually have a full blown “crisis”.

Statistics show that the divorce rate in midlife is actually on average less than the other age groups. The highest incidence of divorce is in the first 8 years of the marriage and is more prevalent in the late thirties and early forties, not in midlife !

The so called “midlife crisis” is a personal crisis due to a bad relationship, job or financial situation or any one of hundreds of different reasons that cause one to get depressed or confused and cause “abnormal” behavior. It can happen at anytime in ones life and is not specific to midlife. Less than 10 percent of middle aged individuals have a “crisis”.

Midlife doesn’t own the crisis,
I was having a crisis in my twenties, 
I’m only having a midlife crisis because I’m in my midlife.
I had a crisis in my twenties, a crisis in my thirties….
Ray Romano 

 In a nationwide survey; middle aged people overwhelmingly expressed content with their lives. The fact is our middle ages are more characterized with competence, confidence and content.

So why is aging and the “midlife crisis” on the agenda so often ?

Probably because there are so many feeding on it ! The midlife crisis has always been a topic of interest for Hollywood, the cosmetic industry, the pharmaceutical industry, unscrupulous  psychologists and the anti-aging industry. First they fuel and foment the insecurities of the middle aged and then offer to sell a cure !

The “Midlife Crisis” is a myth.

Enjoy these wonderful years.

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