Generalizations surrounding psychological well-being across the lifespan give rise to diverse popular but scientifically questionable concepts. For instance, the well-known term “midlife crisis” has been coined to name a self-confidence crisis experienced when reaching middle age. Despite the popularity of this unofficial psychological diagnosis, the perception of midlife as the time of the greatest dissatisfaction and psychological discomfort does not find solid support in academic sources.
Based on research, the midlife crisis and increased associations between midlife and inevitable personal crises are closer to myths. For instance, Paliwal (2018) draws comparisons between men and women aged 20-30, 40-50, and 50-60 in terms of social conformity levels, discomfort, and other features from Lanyon’s psychological screening tool. Contrary to the midlife crisis hypothesis, the results suggest that middle-aged individuals score higher on “expressiveness, comfort, and conformity,” whereas their younger counterparts report increased discomfort (Paliwal, 2018, p. 153). Despite the findings’ potential weaknesses, such as the inability to represent the entire population, it is clear that equating midlife to a period of inevitable psychological challenges is a misconception.
Current studies also prove that overall satisfaction with life depends on self-perception and access to social support rather than the fact of reaching midlife. In their study of women aged 31-77, Degges-White and Kepic (2020) demonstrate that being middle-aged per se is not a crucial predictor of subjective life quality. Instead, their analysis illustrates the great role of perceived age and social well-being in life satisfaction in both adulthood and middle age. Particularly in middle-aged women with large friend networks and subjective ages younger than the factual ones, dissatisfaction and crisis-like manifestations are not common (Degges-White & Kepic, 2020). Considering the findings above, midlife does not automatically involve dissatisfaction or severe psychological concerns, so the midlife crisis idea requires improvement.
Degges-White, S., & Kepic, M. (2020). Friendships, subjective age, and life satisfaction of women in midlife. Adultspan Journal, 19(1), 39-53. Web.
Paliwal, S. (2018). Midlife crisis: A myth or reality. Asian Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, 8(6), 153-159. Web.