A Comparison of the Evolution of Men's and Women's Dreams in Daniel Levinson's Theory of Adult Development

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Abstract

This article examines an important difference in the adult development of men and women never stated by Levinson, but implicit in his two books, The Seasons of a Man's Life (1978) and The Seasons of a Woman's Life (1996). The task of forming a Dream that generated a sense of vitality and excitement was central to Levinson's adult development theory in his book on men. Often occupational in nature, the men's Dreams were usually formed in their late teens and 20s. Yet, careful examination of the interviews in Levinson's last book reveals a dearth of vitalizing Dreams among his women subjects, including the career women, during the same period: None had long-term career goals and nearly all gave precedence to marriage and family. Development of individualistic animating Dreams was complicated by this a priori commitment, and usually delayed until the women's Age 30 Transitions (28–33), often provoking crisis then and subsequent instability.

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