THE STAGES OF LIFE by Clifford Anderson

THE STAGES OF LIFE

A Groundbreaking Look at How We Mature
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An unsatisfyingly abstract and reductionist theory of human psychological growth. Elaborating on what he calls his ``maturational theory,'' as distinct from the ``development theory'' of other psychological researchers, Houston-based psychiatrist Anderson views the process of maturation solely in terms of mental processes and thus greatly underemphasizes the interpersonal and societal dimensions of human development. He asserts that ``one's sense of self, one's understanding of responsibility, one's sense of inside and outside are all determined by structure within the mind.'' Thus, ``maturity''which Anderson claims is not fully achieved until midlifeis seen strictly as an intrapsychic and cognitive process, one characterized primarily by the acquisition of ``intuition.'' Anderson repeatedly refers to this term but defines it in only the vaguest manner, calling it ``a crucial form of input the mind needs in order to create a fully correct understanding of the world...[It] enables the mind to experience change fully.'' He also repeatedly generalizes about human development, apparently allowing for no variation in light of gender, ethnicity, class, and/or cultural background. Although Anderson claims that his theory is ``based on a set of startling new discoveries,'' he barely alludes to recent studies in the field and the empirical evidence for his thesis is zero. He uncritically and superficially discusses the developmental theories of Erik Erikson, Kenneth Keniston, and Margaret Mahler and completely ignores more currently accepted ideas (e.g., newborns' ability to differentiate themselves from their mothers). Stylistically, what makes this digressive work particularly difficult is that the author makes only occasional, and then quite brief, references to actual human experience. Rambling, repetitive, dry, and anything but ``revolutionary.''

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-87113-481-0
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1995