Midlife angst? Turmoil? Not at all!

A paper by Hoffman, E., S. Kaneshiro, et al, questions whether the common midlife experience really is one of creeping anxiety and turmoil - the midlife crisis... and they discover that, actually, we don't really know, as there has been no published research in this area. So they have gone ahead and asked people about a recent joyful experience and its subsequent impact on their outlook on life. All participants reported "a personally meaningful, inspirational experience occurring during this life period" (p.493). This is cheering - and no wonder, when we find that this is based on Maslow's positive psychology and especially the idea of 'peak experiences', which is a full part of the experience of being a self-actualised person. As the authors report:
Maslow offered repeated and trenchant criticism of mainstream psychoanalysis for fixating on the “nasty . . . ‘dark, dirty’” elements of human personality (Maslow, 1971, p. 310). For precisely this reason, Maslow helped launch what he called the “Third Force” of humanistic psychology, to transcend the reductionism of both behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Central to this focus was the investiga-tion of peak-experiences as a foundation of healthy psychological function-ing and optimization of one’s full potentialities.

(Hoffman, E., S. Kaneshiro, et al. "Peak-Experiences Among Americans in Midlife." Journal of Humanistic Psychology)