Stages of Adult Development
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Gene D. Cohen, MD, PHD.

Stages of Adult Human Potential Development

  • 1. Midlife Reevaluation Phase-usually occurs between 40 and 60 years of age. Creative expression is usually shaped by a sense of crisis or quest. People draw on experiences from the past and have a desire to create a meaning in life.
  • 2. Liberation Phase—usually occurs around 60 to the early 70’s. Creative expression has added energy and newfound personal freedom that develops both from within and from external circumstances such as retirement.
  • 3. Summing up phase-usually occurs at 70 or older. People want to find a larger meaning in their life and give of their acquired wisdom
  • 4. Encore Phase-usually occurs at 80 or older. There is a desire to make a lasting contribution, to affirm life, to take care of anything unfinished and to celebrate personal contribution.

 The Midlife Reevaluation Phase

  • Midlife Reevaluation Phase-usually occurs between 40 and 60 years of age. Creative expression is usually shaped by a sense of crisis or quest. People draw on experiences from the past and have a desire to create a meaning in life.
  • This phase asks questions similar to those in adolescence- “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” and a different  question ”Where Have I been?”.
  • You start reevaluating our priorities and goals and develop a sense of quest.
  • Midlife Reevaluation usually leads to a sense of personal discovery rather than a “midlife crisis”.
  • To determine whether you have a quest in midlife or a crisis you look at the following factors:
  • Do you lack concentration or do you focus on thoughts that disturb us? If so this may be a midlife “crisis”.
  • If you have a midlife “quest” your thoughts tend to be focused in exploring a problem or a possible solution.
  • If you are in a “crisis” many times family and friends can help you rediscover your path in life.
  • Positive Qualities of Midlife
  • Less impulsive responses to situations and people in daily life.
  • A more thoughtful perspective on work.
  • Openness to new ideas or complexity in life.
  • Greater respect for intuitive feelings.

 

 

The Liberation Phase

  • Liberation Phase—usually occurs around 60 to the early 70’s. Creative expression has added energy and newfound personal freedom that develops both from within and from external circumstances such as retirement.
  • There is new willingness to take risks.
  • There is new courage to freely express yourself.
  • There is new comfort in who you are which allows for experimentation and innovation.
  • Creativity has added energy in personal freedom-both psychological and literal.

 

The Summing Up Phase

  • Summing Up Phase-usually occurs at 70 or older. People want to find a larger meaning in their life and give of their acquired wisdom.
  • You want to contribute your wisdom to others.
  • Many people write their autobiographies, memoirs, etc.
  • There is an urge to give back to families, communities, the world. Older adults want to teach younger people “how to give”.
  • You confront unfulfilled dreams and conflicts.

 

The Encore Phase

  • Encore Phase-usually occurs at 80 or older. There is a desire to make a lasting contribution, to affirm life, to take care of anything unfinished and to celebrate personal contributions.
  • You may encounter physical issues, illness, frustrations about growing old as well as powerful desires for love, companionship, control, self determination and giving back.
  • There are aspects of each of the other phases in this phase.
  • There are new perspectives on life and some people become very spontaneous.
  • There is a vitality of the spirit and continued excitement about life despite the obstacles.
  • Research from Georgia State shows that for those who remain healthy, the oldest of the old cope as effectively as those who are younger, even though they know they may face loss in the future.
  • In spite of their health, older people are better prepared for life.

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