Identity Development in Women through Middle Age
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In this study, six middle-aged women were interviewed about their lives from young childhood to the present in order to track developmental issues. Special interest was taken in these women's experience of middle age and the issues surrounding this time in their lives. It was hypothesized that neither Erikson's psychosocial theory or Levinson's era theory would explain completely the lives of these women. In addition, it was hypothesized that there would be more important issues to women's lives in middle age than just those surrounding their reproductive capacities and physical attributes such as menopause, physical appearance, and the empty nest syndrome. It was found that although Erikson and Levinson's approaches are helpful in looking at development, women's lives are more complex and varied and thus need to be looked at separately. In addition, topics like caring for aging parents, finding the confidence to speak one's mind, being unsure about what one's next developmental stage will be like, and the effects of the Women's Movement were all important issues to these women's development in middle age.