I’ve finally finished it!
A few months ago I posted a few comments over at ChumpLady’s blog when she posted about midlife crisis. She referenced some basic articles that themselves reference research on midlife. The articles she references are those I see commonly referenced when people want to show evidence that research has shown that MLC is not real, it’s a myth…and so we should just get over it.
The thing is, the articles that are citing the actual research are often misleading–and sadly the researchers they interview from the actual studies contribute to the misleading information. So I have gone back to the original research to find the primary data. One of the frustrating things about the articles is that they often do not cite sources and when they do they are still not specific–they may reference the study, but not the paper and peer-reviewed journal where we can find the study results, or they reference a 500-page book with study results, but fail to direct us to a page or even get us remotely close by citing the chapter.
So what I wanted to do was write an academic style paper with citations–I strayed slightly from the rules by including page numbers for you. Basically when I talk about MLC with someone who is claiming it is a fiction, we both cite the same sources–almost. Typically the primary sources are not cited and so people are only re-reporting secondary or tertiary sources. An academic paper may or may not be your style, but I had a lot of fun writing it. Below is the abstract and you can download the entire paper as a pdf for free.
By K-R Stumpf (Rollercoasterider)
The Hero’s Spouse
Research has shown that there is no empirical evidence to support a universal midlife crisis (MLC). But the lack of evidence for a universal MLC is not a lack of evidence for a midlife crisis being possible. Disproving the universality of MLC was important, but now it is time to accept the conclusions and study MLC itself. Unfortunately it seems that researchers have stretched their interpretation to conclude that since it’s not universal, MLC does not exist. They do this even while citing circumstances of acknowledged MLC!
There is not a universally accepted definition or idea of MLC—is it a developmental issue, or an adaptive issue? What is the age range for midlife? Why is there an acknowledgement of MLC amidst claims it is fiction and how is such a conflict accepted? What sort of prevalence is necessary for a MLC to be considered real?
Why does it matter?
The family members suffering peripherally from a parent or spouse’s MLC get ignored and dismissed when MLC is considered fiction with references to ideas such as nothing is forever or the incorrect belief that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Changing the attitude changes the resources available which changes marital and familial recovery.
MLC Beliefs and Definitions
Daniel Levinson: Adaptive or Developmental?
The MIDUS Theories or Hypotheses
Concerns and Study Limitations
The Men at Midlife Study
The Acceptance Tactic
The full paper is available for download as a pdf.