Erickson describes the development of an individual to be divided into eight stages and posits that in the midlife adulthood the events are based on generativity and stagnation. At this stage individuals are faced with conflicting demands and as such must make the right choices for better outcomes. In this case study the events and experiences as narrated from Ben’s midlife crisis are related to the development in the middle life adulthood.
With his first kid and having gotten into a marriage relationship Ben felt loved and felt appreciated but became anxious. Indeed Eric (1963) observes that at this mid life adulthood stage individuals practice on generativity by raising children. However, he also observes that generativity can be also be pursued by engaging in activities which contribute into the future generation such as writing and social activism. The couples who engage in marriage view it positively and ensure emotional satisfaction.
Ben being a plumber had the feeling of being unsatisfied with the career and felt the job was not enough in assuring his family of financial security and as such engaged in other part time jobs. As a plumber he recognized the limitation the career offered and found it hard to do continue and opted out of the job for other lucrative and ‘meaningful’ ventures. This was done due to the high expectation his family bestowed onto him and to secure a future for his children which the lowly paying job of being a plumber could not do. Indeed, Ben was also engulfed with a strong fear of failure. He started running some business which was not proving to be working well and culminated into divorce.
He started frequently going to church and he became more aware of his spiritual development. In a longitudinal study that was carried out, it was found out that individuals were more spiritual in midlife crisis especially to revive hope and help coping with stress. It is also worth noting that people who are happy are coincidentally found to have strong religious association
At first the marriage was satisfactory and offered mutual emotional interest. However, Ben and his wife became divorced which brought depression and social withdrawal. Ben resulted to eating junk food which later culminated to obesity. This indeed brought along some heath problems like blood pressure. Indeed, at this stage depression also brought sleeping problems sleepless and wakeful nights. In addition, Ben started engaging in alcohol and extramarital affairs for satisfaction and for medication.
It then became apparent to Ben that he required self motivation to realize his purpose in life and he started taking some leisure exercises. As a matter of fact, motivation through exercise increases blood flow, enhances testerone production with other hormones also being produced helping the victim feel better. More over, he started taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and taking organic foods which have been found to produce a motivating feeling.
Went back to do plumbing but was then sacked to alcoholism problem. This resulted to a mild depression and financial stress. Uncontrollability and anxiety then followed suit and Ben got more involved in excessive drinking. However, Ben later reunited with his family. This salvaged the lost relationship with the family, friends and the children. In addition, Ben reestablished his spiritual development and started going to church.
Empty nest syndrome
Due to the lost time and with the children now mature and each following on his or her socials clock Ben started feeling emotionally at loss with the children absent for a long period of time. In addition Ben would live to regret as he had inadequately executed his parenting role. However, Eric (1963) observes that the parents, who happen to live with their adult children at this stage, feel satisfied and happy in providing for their children.
The future is an important aspect in the mid life adulthood. Satisfaction is derived by having an assurance of having an intergenerational survival and relationships. As such Ben feels satisfied that some of his children have been engaged in relationships which brought along some grandchildren.
Ben experienced declined eyesight and loss of memory. There was general lack of perception and numerical inability which could better be described as decline in level of fluid intelligence.
Mid life adulthood
According to Stage seven in Erikson’s Developmental Stage Theory, the individuals are faced with a daunting responsibility of striking the right balance between generativity and stagnation (Erikson’s 1963). The aspect of generativity encompasses the future aspirations and concern for the coming generation. Stagnation entails being less concerned about the welfare of the others and indulging in activities such as relaxation. As such, the individuals should practice some stagnation and should not extend themselves. Eric continues to illustrate four types of generativity which are biological, parental, work, and cultural (Erikson, 1963).
On the other hand, Levinson observes that the changes in middle age is based on four conflicts which are young or old, destructive or constructive, masculine or constructive, and being attached or being withdrawn from others (Baruch, 1984). Levinson believes that the life of an individual in midlife is sandwiched between the past and the future and any endeavor in adapting to this gap leads to disruption of life and he refers to it as a crisis (Baruch, 1984)
However, it suffices that the events and the expectations of the midlife adulthood have grossly been over-exaggerated. Even though these theories view it as a crisis, people have different individual variations and different experiences of mid life adulthood. How an individual behaves under stress varies differently with an individual. Indeed, the contemporary life events approach dictates that the development of an individual does not solely depend on the event in midlife stage but also relies on the how the victim copes with the event, some mediating factors such as the support from the relatives, the social-historical factor and the life stage (Arlene, 2002).
It can be observed that if Ben in our instance had gotten immediate intervention from the family things would not have resulted into excessive drinking behavior. It can also be argued that these theories have tendency of concentrating on change in disregard to stability. In addition, these theories can hinder more understanding of midlife as they put more emphasis on studying the man’s behavior in disregard for the woman. Indeed, with women roles being varied, it then becomes hard to define a specific sequence of development. As a matter of fact, Neugarten (1968) views mid life adulthood as the period of optimum production and responsibility. On the other hand, Lachman and Bertand (2001) identified personality as the predisposing factor in the midlife adulthood, with the individuals who are neurotic being more predisposed to a midlife crisis.
Arlene F. (2002) The Developmental Stages of Erik Erikson. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from, http://www.learningplaceonline.com /stages/organize/Erikson.htm
Baruch, G. (1984). Women in Midlife. New York: Plenum
Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and Society. New York: Norton
Lachman, M. & Bertrand, E (2001). Handbook of Midlife Development. New York: Wiley
Neugarten, B. (1968). Middle Age and Aging: A Reader in Social Psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press