Mid Life Crisis’ Mutating Psychology

It’s a term used all to often to shed a jocund light on the paralyzing fears millions feel when they reach what they perceive as the pinnacle of their life.  And yet even as mid life crises continue to influence the behaviors of so many in our culture, it seems the very meaning of the words ‘midlife crisis’ are shifting and twisting as they manifest in new ways previously unseen.

Previously the midlife crisis was accented with clear clues such as buying a new car, overspending on a luxurious vacation or a new house, or having an affair.  Of course these are generally more extreme examples of a midlife crisis, but their prominence on television and in print media have made these very acts seem like direct symptoms of a midlife crisis when they happen in a specific age range.  But research from the University of Britain suggests that you don’t have to be middle aged to be having a midlife crisis anymore.  In fact, the study suggested that many people were exhibiting all the classical characteristics that would have once been considered a midlife crisis at the young age of 35.  Furthermore, the study attempted to inquire as to the reason for the major shift.

In 1958, a person was generally considered at risk for a midlife crisis as they entered their fifties, with some cases reaching into the late forties.  In these days, many decisions were made late in a person’s career, with transfers and job changes happening less often and the market far more stable and predictable.  A man who reached halfway up the corporate ladder by this time still had a shot at getting the more desirable job he always wanted.  Given the retirement age was quite lower than it is today, it shows how ambitious a person could become in the later years and eventually still achieve their desired income bracket.  But it seems the job market is a far different creature now than it was in those days.

In the fast paced world of 2010 where technology is prolific and international interests are mandatory contacts for many companies, the corporate ladder has a much more stringent and serious curve of ambition.

This latest statistical revelation, combined with other studies performed this year paints an interesting picture of modern life.  More people are leaving home later in their lives, more are going to college for anywhere from four to eight years, more are working to move themselves to higher promoted jobs, and then retiring at a much older age.  The trend appears to be that as time goes on, the course life will take becomes earlier and earlier.  And the correlating midlife crisis suffered has also been happening at a younger age.  And as it happens at a younger age, it will likely be manifesting in different ways thus making the image of the mid life crisis change as well (which could have strange cultural implications as well.)  And this revelation shows us that mid life crises are not happening in the middle of the life, but in fact quite early in it.