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Myth 8: Most People Experience a Midlife Crisis in their 40s or Early 50s (50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology)

The idea of the midlife crisis is so prevalent that there are internet sites and businesses that are built for the purpose of mitigating it. The Midlife Club and LifeLaunch through the Hudson institute are examples.

We all know what a midlife crisis is through popular culture. In American Beauty (1999), Kevin Spacey quits his high-pressure job to flip burgers, take drugs, work-out, and develop an infatuation with his teenage daughter’s girlfriend. In Groundhog Day (1993), Bill Murray portrays an alcoholic, self-absorbed weatherman who seems destined to repeat the same day, every day, until he finally realizes that his life would have meaning if he decides to become a better person. Wild Hogs (2007) tells the story of middle-aged men who hit the road on motorcycles to relive the excitement they felt in their youth.

Psychologist Ian Gotlib (Gotlib & Wheaton, 2006) reviewed headlines and feature articles in The New York Times Living Arts section for 15 months. He discovered that editors used the term “midlife crisis” an average of twice a month to headline reviews of books, films, and tele vision programs.

The idea of the mid-life crisis is somewhat grounded in truth. Psychologist, Erik Erikson in 1968 observed that in middle adulthood, people grapple with finding meaning, direction, and purpose in their live, and try to find out if they should course correct. But the prevalence of this experience was exaggerated.

In the U.S, people first divorce within the first 5 years of marriage. And men who buy sports cars when they are middle-aged likely do so because they are in a better financial condition than they were when they were younger.

A large study that was done with Chinese people found that people felt more in control while middle-aged than they did a decade earlier.

Concerns about midlife crisis was more prevalent than the actual experience of it.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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