Thursday, 11 February 2010

Mid-life crises

After hearing a psychologist on the radio talking about mid-life crises and even quarter-life crises, I developed a theory about the whole phenomenon. Of course, given that I'm not a psychologist myself, this should all be taken with a very large grain of salt.

My theory goes something like this: some people define their identities by things in their lives, most commonly their childhood environment, their job or their children. When these things go away (finishing school, children leaving home, retirement) we suddenly don't know who we are any more. So we thrash about looking for something else to define us, like a new, impractical car.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I realise this would make mid-life crises more like identity crises.
PPS - That's assuming I know what I'm talking about when I say that.


littlemissrandom said...

Is not the 'mid-life crisis' about hitting a specific age and realising that you're old?

I mean, for me I think it will hit if I reach, say, 40, and I haven't accomplished all of the things I wanted to. That's when I'd be likely to go out and do something crazy, like climb Mt Everest, so at least I can say I've done something.

I agree that identity crises often occur when something that you have identified yourself with for a long period of time goes away. For example - when I had that nasy incident with my hair? Now, I know we all laughed about it, but I had a serious identity crisis about that.

And so yes, those can occur at specific points in our life (eg. mid-life, quarter life) etc. But I think that mid-life crises and identity crises can be separated.

John said...

They probably are, and I'm happy for this theory to be roundly criticised, since I'm not even partially trained in this. And I'm familiar with the definition of mid-life crisis as a realisation of missed accomplishments, but it must be linked to identity for some people. Otherwise why would they buy expensive things at that time? I guess it's possible they dreamed of success, equate success with ownership and therefore aim to display their success through status symbols. I don't know. I'm just rambling.

littlemissrandom said...

Owning something expensive could also be an indication of accomplishment.

I may not have by the time I was 40, but at least I own this bitchin' car.

John said...

Okay, if we agree that mid-life crises (which neither of us would have had yet) are about accomplishment, can I still have the observation that there are more likely times in our lives to have identity crises, like leaving home or retiring?

littlemissrandom said...

Yes, I believe I granted you that concession in the first sentence of my last paragraph of my first comment.