TRANSFORMATIONS: Our Adult Dilemma of Choice, Safety and Self by

TRANSFORMATIONS: Our Adult Dilemma of Choice, Safety and Self

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Another schematic view of adult development, written by a UCLA psychiatrist-researcher who briefly and unsuccessfully collaborated with Gail Sheehy. Like Levinson's The Seasons of a Man's Life (p. 87), Transformations identifies observable patterns in adulthood and sees in those patterns traces of childhood: Gould refers to the ""demonic anger"" arising from unresolved conflicts and suggests that children carry into adulthood four false assumptions (and numerous ""component assumptions"") which dominate them in successive age periods. Thus, teenagers and those in their early twenties struggle with the belief ""I'll always belong to my parents and believe in their world"" while those first out on their own believe their parents will always bail them out. Around age 30, the idea that ""There are no significant co-existing contradictory forces within me"" must be reckoned with; from 35-40 or so, one wrestles with illusions of goodness and immortality and with one's place in the world. Like Passages, this is a middle-class tableau, presenting less seismic, more common life changes along with a token foray into blue-collar differences (via Lillian Rubin's Worlds of Pain). In unraveling the conspiracies couples engage in or documenting the turbulence of mid-life changes, Gould makes clear that he sees growth not as some vague abstract goal but as ""release from arbitrary internal constraints."" And he is able to make subtle discriminations--between kinds of anxiety, between sadness and depression. Eschewing the roller-coaster veneer of Passages, offering a broader perspective than The Seasons of a Man's Life, this may suffer for coming out later but it does codify familiar experiences into recognizable and usable forms.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster