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Solomon, R.Z. (1984). The Course of Life. Psychoanalytic Contributions Toward Understanding Personality Development. Vol. III: Adulthood and the Aging Process: Edited by Stanley I. Greenspan and George H. Pollock. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Mental Health, 1980. 608 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:306-315.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:306-315

The Course of Life. Psychoanalytic Contributions Toward Understanding Personality Development. Vol. III: Adulthood and the Aging Process: Edited by Stanley I. Greenspan and George H. Pollock. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Mental Health, 1980. 608 pp.

Review by:
Rebecca Z. Solomon

Although developmental concepts have always been a major aspect of psychoanalysis, interest in the factors which influence psychic growth has burgeoned during the past three decades. This interest has been stimulated by child analysis, the treatment of persons with severe psychopathology, and the recognition that not all emotional turmoil is the consequence of unresolved childhood conflicts. There are tasks and challenges specific to and characteristic of each phase of the life cycle. These evoke past conflicts to varying degrees. Knowledge of the age-specific challenge is essential in order to appreciate an adult's stress and to evaluate the impact of the past on present difficulties. Because some enthusiastic developmentalists have focused on the manifest challenge and its resolution and have tended to ignore the impact of intrapsychic issues, the developmental perspective, especially as applied to adults, has been viewed with skepticism by many and has only slowly been accepted. The concern has been that the developmental approach overemphasizes the impact of the actuality of life events and neglects the psychological elaboration and significance of them. This volume, the third and last in a series that deals with developmental issues throughout life, corrects this impression. Though to varying degrees, and from somewhat different perspectives, all of the contributors have integrated developmental issues with psychoanalytic concepts.

In the lead article, Elliott Jaques discusses the midlife crisis. It spans the years between the mid-thirties and early fifties. It is a crisis of creativity, and its manifestations are clearest in highly creative persons. The artist's style changes from a lyrical poetical to a more spontaneous one, and the content becomes more thoughtful and philosophical. Jaques illustrates his thesis with reference to the lives and works of recognized creative people in many fields. He indicates the manner in which their work deals with the depression characteristic of the midlife crisis.

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