Middle Life

Jung believed that middle life begms at approximately age 35 or 40, by which time the sun has passed its zenith and begms its downward descent. Although this decline can present middle-aged people with increasing anxieties, middle life is also a period of tremendous potential.

If middle-aged people retain the social and moral values of their early life, they become rigid and fanatical hi trying to hold on to their physical attractiveness and agility. Finding their ideals shifting, they may fight desperately to maintain their youthful appearance and lifestyle. Most of us, wrote Jung (1931/1960a), are unprepared to "take the step hito the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. ... we cannot live hi the afternoon of life accordhig to the programme of life's morning; for what was great hi the morning will be little at evening, and what hi the morning was true will at evening have become a lie" (p. 399).

How can middle life be lived to its fullest? People who have lived youth by neither childish nor middle-aged values are well prepared to advance to middle life and to live fully during that stage. They are capable of giving up the extraverted goals of youth and moving hi the hitroverted direction of expanded consciousness. Then psychological health is not enhanced by success hi bushiess, prestige hi society, or satisfaction with family life. They must look forward to the future with hope and anticipation, surrender the lifestyle of youth, and discover new meaning in middle life. This step often, but not always, involves a mature religious orientation, especially a belief in some sort of life after death (Jung, 193 l/1960a).

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