Adulthood

The successful completion of late adolescence culminates in adulthood, a period when people can establish a love relationship with at least one significant other person. Writing of this love relationship, Sullivan (1953b) stated that "this really highly developed intimacy with another is not the prhicipal business of life, but is, perhaps, the prhicipal source of satisfaction hi life" (p. 34).

Sullivan had little to say about this final stage because he believed that mature adulthood was beyond the scope of interpersonal psychiatry; people who have achieved the capacity to love are not in need of psychiatric counsel. His sketch of the mature person, therefore, was not founded on clinical experience but was an extrapolation from the precedhig stages.

Mature adults are perceptive of other people's anxiety, needs, and security. They operate predominantly on the syntaxic level, and find life interesting and exciting (Sullivan, 1953b).

Table 8.2 summarizes the first six Sullivanian stages of development and shows the importance of interpersonal relationships at each stage.

Chapter 8 Sullivan: Interpersonal Theory 231

TABLE 8.2

Summary of Sullivan's Stages of Development

TABLE 8.2

Summary of Sullivan's Stages of Development

Significant

Interpersonal

Important

Stage

Age

Others

Process

Learnings

Infancy

0 to 2

Mothering one

Tenderness

Good mother/ bad mother; good me/bad me

Childhood

2 to 6

Parents

Protect security through imaginary playmates

Syntaxic language

Juvenile era

6 to 81/2

Playmates of

Orientation

Competition,

equal status

toward living in the world of peers

compromise, cooperation

Preadolescence

81/2 to 13

Single chum

Intimacy

Affection and respect from peers

Early

13 to 15

Several chums

Intimacy and

Balance of

adolescence

lust toward different persons

lust, intimacy and security operations

Late

15 —

Lover

Fusion of

Discovery of

adolescence

intimacy and lust

self and the world outside of self

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Getting to Know Anxiety

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