Mid-Life Development

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(2), 97–98. Reviews the book, The Seasons of a Man's Life by Daniel J. Levinson, Charlotte N. Darrow, Edward B. Klein, Maria H. Levinson, and Braxton McKee (1978). This book grew out of Levinson's research on the personality development of 40 middle-aged men–10 each of biologists, novelists, blue-collar workers, and business executives. The study began in 1968 with prolonged depth interviews, and ended in 1971 with equally detailed follow-ups. The method was briefly longitudinal but, as with any such study, the interviews also provided a massive amount of retrospective information. The study shows that abstraction of the common sequence of themes in men's lives nevertheless remains a significant contribution. The biographical materials are well chosen to show the generic similarities underlying the phenomenal heterogeneities. Not all of the developmental tasks allocated to the various stages are universal. In the teasing out of common themes, the authors have by no means ignored individual differences. Indeed, they emphasize them even at the generic level by reference to the degree of effectiveness with which different men work through the transition into mid-life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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