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Newton, P.M. (1984). Samuel Johnson's Breakdown and Recovery in Middle-Age: A Life Span Developmental Approach to Mental Illness and its Cure. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:93-118.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:93-118

Samuel Johnson's Breakdown and Recovery in Middle-Age: A Life Span Developmental Approach to Mental Illness and its Cure

Peter M. Newton

SUMMARY

Samuel Johnson was severely depressed throughout the decade of his fifties. By 62 he was cured, and the next ten years were the happiest of his entire life. I analyse these changes from a life span developmental perspective and find that Johnson's depression was a product of a developmental failure in adulthood—his inability to do the psychological work of the mid-life transition—operating upon an oedipally-based depressive character formed in childhood. I offer the hypothesis that transitional periods in the life cycle promote a regression in the personality, and that during these periods structural changes are accelerated in the relationship between the ego and the superego.

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