Daily Archives: August 21, 2010

The Myth of the Mid-Life Crisis, and the Real Search for Fulfillment

THE SEARCH FOR FULFILLMENT by Susan Krauss Whitbourne

by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, author of The Search for Fulfillment: Revolutionary New Research That Reveals the Secret to Long-term Happiness (Ballantine, 2010)

Read Whitbourne’s recent post, “Why We Love Betty White”, on Psychology Today.

It gives me great pleasure to tell you about my book, The Search for Fulfillment, which is the culmination of my life-long search for answers about what causes people to change in their adult years. As a young assistant professor, I dreamed of being able to chart the pathways of development by conducting a longitudinal study. Through a combination of good fortune and planning, and the willing cooperation of hundreds of participants, I was able to complete the study that forms the core of my book.

My goal in writing the book was to shed light on the myriad ways that people change through life while at the same time identifying systematic patterns to characterize that change. As one of the early pioneers in the pedagogy of adult development and aging, I also hope that my book will be a valuable supplement to college courses in the field. By giving students insight into the real changes that adults experience, the book will educate them about development in adulthood. The book also will illuminate the research process for students. My observations about the research participants form an important part of the book. The mystery and excitement that comes along with opening the questionnaires from participants tested 10, 20, and even 35 years earlier is captured in my personal reflections that accompany the stories of the people in my study.

As a scholar in this field, I have sought to educate readers about the importance of separating myths about midlife from the findings based on empirical data. Continue reading

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