So just what is a mid-life crisis?


So just what is a mid-life crisis?



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The mid-life crisis which is very much a male phenomenon seems a bit of a blurred area to me. Whether it is an acknowledged condition rather than a period in your life when you are likely to get stressed or depressed about certain issues in your life is questionable. According to the Journal Scientific American “The concept of the midlife crisis sometimes serves as a convenient excuse for behaviours that just happen to take place in one’s 40s or 50s.” In other words, rather than it being a sudden all-encompassing condition that needs specific medical treatment, it is better described as a period in your life when you are more likely to face specific stresses related to your age.

The idea of that little box we call “Mid-life crisis” has only existed since the 1970’s. It was made popular by psychologist Daniel Levinson and LA Psychiatrist Roger Gould. The original belief was that the mid-life crisis was a period in life when we need to rebuild certain life structures. It is perhaps a time when we reflect on our life. Look back and question – have we achieved what we wanted to achieve? Then in desperation start an out-of-character activity to make up for any losses in youth. But again “achievements” are relative to time and effort put in. Meaning the same stressors could happen to anyone at any time in their lives.

The negative symptoms experienced (stress, depression, lack of confidence etc.), are the same type of symptoms you would experience from life stressors at any other time in your life. They are likely to be dealt with using the same treatment (talking to a trusted friend, professional counselling, etc.).

Therefore, it makes you wonder a little why we don’t have a teenage-life crisis (first love lost; lost mobile phone(!); failure in getting correct grades to go to university; Facebook has gone down etc.) or a twenties-life crisis (finding the first mortgage; sleepless nights with the new born; losing first job etc.).

It is a label that is given to you by someone who is trying to make sense of a set of behaviours rather to than a diagnosis of a medical condition. It is a nice cosy box to put all your behaviours into.

So what are those behaviours. All negative?  Well, apparently they can be a great excuse to have a jolly good time! Everyone has heard of a friend who gives up everything to sail around the world, or buys a Harley Davidson, or takes up mountaineering to reach goals they have lost in the confusion of just living. And aren’t they natural responses to what life throws at you?? Again the label is given to you by those who sit and watch – perhaps a little enviously.

This is not to say that around the age of 40 and 50 men don’t face real life changing traumas. But let’s put them in their right perspective, not jump to passing them off easily with a dodgy little label. At any age, think through your feeling, talk to someone your trust, don’t jump into changes which could have a bad effect on you or the people close to you and be realistic.

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