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Bolgar, H. (2002). When the Glass Is Full. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(4):640-651.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(4):640-651

When the Glass Is Full

Hedda Bolgar, Ph.D.

Aging is Balancing Act on the Tightrope of Time Living in the present, in the past, and in the future. The language of aging is “still,” “no more,” and “not yet.” Much has been written about aging but not very much in the first person, and yet there is as great a difference between “aging” and “my aging” as there is between “death and dying” and “my death and my dying.” (I am wondering why in the gerontological literature death comes before dying.) It seems to me that one has to be old to write meaningfully about the complexity and the richness of the final stage of one's life. The question is: How old should one be? How much “still,” and how much “no more,” is there at any given time? When is one fully aware and when is it too late? When does the “no more” part of aging interfere with the energy and concentration required for exploring the meaning of the aging experience?

Eric H. Erikson (1950), who wrote so vividly about the changing inner stages of the human life cycle, once remarked that he was middle aged when he described the old age struggle between “integrity and despair.” Tragically, when he reached his eighties and wanted to write about his own “completed life,” his failing health and his many “no mores” prevented him from letting the world know what he experienced.

Writing about my own aging, being old, facing death, and being a full-time psychoanalyst feels a little like taking visiting friends on a sight-seeing tour of my city.

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