What is a Midlife Crisis?
Trends come and go. Since the 1970s there have been various studies about Midlife Crisis (MLC). A common initial theory was that a Midlife Crisis was an inevitable transitional event; subsequent data collected through a variety of methods has a wild range across the scale and the MLC definitions used are varied. A common definition labels MLC as emotional turmoil between 35 and 50 caused by fears and anxieties regarding aging. Much of the studies were surveys given wherein the data was self-reported. My definition of MLC is stricter and I find self-reporting to be possibly the least reliable source--since MLCers deny they are having an MLC, during the crisis and may deny their past experience once the crisis is complete. So how common is a Midlife Crisis; how many people have one of their own?
My answer: it doesn't matter. I am not writing to offer or prove statistics. If you are reading this because you are experiencing crisis--indirectly in this context, then it doesn't matter if only 5% of your peers are having a similar experience; it doesn't matter if it only happens to left-handed green-eyed men who marry trapeze artists. What matters is that it is happening to you and your spouse; your experience is real and painful and you need help, support and direction.
The articles created for this section will review Midlife Crisis in greater depth than this brief introduction. I'm sure there are several variants of MLC that do not fit my descriptions. I don't want to debate the meaning; instead I'll review what I mean by the term. It is not my intention to deny someone else's experience, but this website refers to a specific type of MLC.
There are many who insist that a Midlife Crisis is a journey to be celebrated. It is true that Midlife is a journey to be embraced and celebrated. Everyone who survives long enough will experience a Midlife Transition (MLT). Not all transitions are crises, but all MLCs are MLTs. Midlife Crisis is not a clinically treatable psychiatric disorder or mental illness. It is a normal life event--midlife transition--that has escalated to crisis levels of emotional and mental difficulties. Midlife Transition is a time for Self-questioning, thus it is a quest. It is about change; denial and attempts to avoid the transition yield crisis. The crisis is not a disease but Dis-Ease. Midlife is a necessary journey toward greater Self, spiritual growth and awareness; it is a reason to rejoice as a person becomes a butterfly.
Midlife Crisis is not gender-specific. I do not know if the numbers of male versus female MLCers are equal. But my experience has shown me that more women seek support through websites such as this and thus I apologize, but I will refer to the MLCer as a male more often than as a female. My own experience is with a male MLCer and thus I have researched and understand this aspect better.
What is different about a person who embraces the journey from one who denies it?
Key Components of a Midlife Crisis
- Depression - Covert & Overt
- The Urge to Abandon
- Blaming or Projecting (Denial of Responsibility)
- Personality Changes or Mood Swings
Self-reflection is a component of midlife, and this may include depression even for those whose transitions do not reach crisis levels. The easier the person falls into a depression, the more likely it is not a crisis. Depression permeates Midlife Crisis, it forces reflection which is a confrontation with one's fears, and thus it is this feeling of depression which the MLCer is trying to escape.