Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 2, 1974 · Page 151
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 151

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 2, 1974
Page 151
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Page 151 article text (OCR)

tuning hmily lies. "now" is the lime to live, grow and MM. 53-60--a time of mellowing and better relationships, but also of self-examination. ft Me oi life LOS ANGELES, CALIF. D oes adulthood really exist or is it a legal fiction? Do people reach maturity at 18, 21, or even 51, and then stop changing? Dr. Roger Gould, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Neuropsychiat- ric Institute, finds that people do indeed change and develop throughout adulthood. "It's not a period of marking time," explains Gould. "Adulthood consists of developmental stages much like those of childhood and adolescence. Its a time of active and systematic change." Gould's theory is based on a five- year comparative study of out-patients at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute and a non-patient group. Through observation and questionnaire, he learned that adults generally pass through seven different developmental stages, or time- zones. Each time-zone carries with it certain conflicts, joys, fears, and beliefs. The seven phases of adulthood are herewith outlined. Which one are you in? · The 16-18-year-old has a strong desire to get away from his parents, but he does not act upon this wish. His autonomy is precarious, often reinforced by negativism^ .and is easily eroded from moment to moment. · The 18-22-year-old feels halfway out of the family and worries -about being reclaimed. Members of this age group are often living away at school, working, paying rent, owning their cars, but they are not totally committed to leaving their families. The peer group becomes an important ally in by Connecticut Walker their struggle to cut their family ties. · Among 22-28-year-olds there is a considerable shift. They feel established, autonomous and separate from, the family. They believe their activities are worthwhile and feel "now" is the time for living, growing and building. Peers are still important, but self-reliance is paramount. They are committed to making their marriages work. · Those in the 29-34-year-old group begin to question what they are doing. They feel weary of being what they are supposed to be, but they continue. They have a poignant desire to be accepted by the spouse "for what I am." At the same time, they want to accept their children for what they're 'becoming and not impose roles on them. During the early 30's, however, life appears much more difficult than it Dr. Roger Gould, professor of psychiatry, says adults generally develop in seven specific stages, or time-zones. appeared in the 20's. · For 35-43-year-olds time seems to constrict Individuals in this age bracket feel there is little time left to shape the behavior of their adolescent children and even less time to"make it"in their own careers. At this stage, their own parents turn toward them. There is a muffled renewal of old conflicts which are suppressed by the thought that their parents are getting older and time is running out for them. It also seems increasingly difficult to make marriages work, to communicate with their spouse. The predominant feeling is that there is still time but one must hurry to make some dreams come true. · In the 43-53 period, individuals tend to feel "the die is cast," and view life with some bitterness. They criticize their parents and blame them for their problems. They are also ready to find fault with their nearly adult children. From their spouse, however, they seek sympathy and affection in a way that resembles a much earlier dependence upon their parents. · Among 53-60-year-olds the negative feelings of the 40's diminish. Relationships with themselves, their parents, children and friends become warmer and more mellow. Marital happiness and contentment continue to increase. The spouse becomes a valuable companion and less a parent. They feel less responsible and less critical of their children and begin to consider their approval as worthy. During this adult phase, however, they question the meaninglessness of life and review their own contribution to the world. They also concentrate on petty annoyances and their own health. "My data suggest," says Gould, "that not only does adulthood consist of a series of tasks to be performed, but there exists an actual time-clock which is thoroughly universal and thoroughly regular which defines the task at hand. "The fact that you're 40 or 43 years old, for example, really does affect the way you view life and the decisions you make. When you reach 50, your perspective changes. Inner life frozen "It is possible to live for all outward appearances in one time-zone but have an inner life frozen in a previous one," adds Gould. "Consider, for example, a 40-year-old divorcee who continually chooses unreliable partners, because they're exactly what her mother wouldn't want for her. She lives a child-life, acting out fantasies of revenge on her mother. She's looking for partners whom she cannot marry but with whom she retains illusions of childhood. Nevertheless, she feels sad and frightened when she realizes she's no longer a child. "While this case illustrates an extreme example of time reversal, we all struggle against time," Gould declares. "Throughout adulthood we continually face challenges to give up preferred earlier beliefs about the world." Dr. Gould's phases-of-adulthood theory comprises something of a road map to the future. Like all maps, it serves as a guide and reference, reassuring its followers that they're traveling along well-beaten paths. "I hope my theory-takes adulthood out of the realm of the mysterious, the unknowable, the unconquerable and puts a frame around it," concludes Gould. "I hope it enables people to feel that they share . some common ground with the rest of humanity."

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