Mens midlife crisis: what it is, characteristics and causes
These are the characteristics of the typical midlife crisis in men.
The midlife crisis is a psychological problem (though not a psychopathology) that affects many people in a world where there is a real devotion to the idea of being young.
Although it can affect people from all walks of life, in this article we are going to focus specifically on the way it damages the quality of life of men in Western societies. So, let's take a look at how let's take a look at how the midlife crisis usually occurs when experienced by men..
What is a midlife crisis?
The crisis of the 50 is a type of psychological discomfort that occurs in some people when surpassing or approaching 50 years of age.
It is fundamentally about a problem of self-esteem in which the perception of one's own age plays a very important role and leads to dysfunctional ways of managing emotions and seeing oneself, giving rise to what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy effect: much of what is said or done is interpreted as a sign that we are worth less because we are that age and live in a certain context.
That said, let's look at the main characteristics of the midlife crisis.
1. It is not an age-related problem.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but if we stop to think about it, it is not so much. Crossing the 50-year threshold does not, of course, trigger a midlife crisis: it is an arbitrary number that is relevant to the problem. is an arbitrary number that is relevant because of the meaning we attribute to it socially in general and specifically in Western culture.and, specifically, in Western culture.
This partly explains why only a fraction of people who reach this age develop a midlife crisis or something resembling it.
Thus, the way to overcome the midlife crisis is psychosocial in nature, and does not depend on the degree of Biological maturation of the person suffering from this malaise.
2. It feeds on ageism
If the midlife crisis exists, it is because, for several decades, a series of cultural dynamics have been taking place that extol everything that has to do with youth and the aesthetics associated with it.
The fact of knowing that they are far from youth (which is perceived as a stage of life buried in the past) leads many people to develop many complexes about their appearance, their abilities and their achievements, and to wish they were much younger because of the negative messages about middle age and old age. that society constantly spreads.
In other words, the midlife crisis can be understood, at least in part, as the psychological imprint left on some people by discrimination directed against people over a certain age.
3. It also relies on the concept of success.
We have seen that the crisis of the 50's drinks from the idea that once the core of youth has been reached, each passing year detracts from a person's value..... However, it does not stop there; it also relies on another system of prejudice that goes in a somewhat different direction: the concepts of "successful person" and "unsuccessful person".
These clichés consist of a series of expectations and clichés about what is supposed to be a successful life project, which adopts many elements of the consumerist model and the idea of the "self-made man" linked to the welfare societies that have appeared in the West.
It is understood that people have a certain amount of time to demonstrate their worthThis is embodied in the ability to accumulate material goods, to build a very specific family model, and to accumulate intellectual capital (i.e., to gain access to "high culture").
Since it is assumed that most career paths have already reached their "ceiling" around the age of 50, crossing this age limit means experiencing the social pressure to compare oneself with others and to assess whether or not one's career has been successful, and by extension, whether or not one has value.
Anything that departs from this idea of success based on the Anglo-Saxon white man subtracts points, which means that a huge part of the population, diverse by its very nature, has many reasons to feel bad. a huge part of the population, diverse by its very nature, has a lot of reasons to feel bad about reaching that stage of life. when they reach that stage of life.
- You may be interested in, "What is Social Psychology?"
Forms of malaise associated with the midlife crisis in men.
These are the main sources of discomfort that men going through a midlife crisis tend to suffer from.
1. They tend to suffer from impostor syndrome.
Many men have the feeling that part of what they are managing to maintain because of their socioeconomic status is due to the simple fact that they have been working in a particular company or professional environment for more years than younger men (and because of the contacts they have gained along the way), not because they are actually more valuable or competitive in the labor market..
This makes them attribute a good part of their success to elements external to them, and this makes them feel bad when they compare themselves with younger professionals, undervaluing the qualities they really have. In this sense, it is worth remembering that, in general, the value in the labor market tends to have a greater influence on men's self-esteem.
2. They feel bad if they notice that they have not been able to build traditional families or accumulate wealth.
At this age it is already becoming common to look back and value the past as if it were the bulk of one's life, the core of one's life journey. That is to say, the person assumes that nothing positive will happen that is remarkable and has not already happened to him/her before.
This idea, besides being erroneous, leads many people to feel anguish if they reach the age of 50 (an important psychological threshold) and feel dissatisfied in relation to their life. feel unfulfilled in relation to their expectations of starting a family.. And since men have traditionally been seen as the leaders of the family unit because of sexist dynamics, these kinds of "failures" are seen as one's own failures.
Something similar happens with economic achievements, understood as the ability to earn money. In this respect, it is easy for men to compare themselves it is easy for men to compare themselves only with people who have achieved a privileged socioeconomic status in less time than they have. in less time than they have.
3. They suffer from a lack of referents about what they should aspire to.
Since many men focus almost exclusively on economic or professional goals, it is relatively common that when they reach the age of 50 they stop feeling motivated to earn more and more (either because they have less reason to think that in a relatively short time they could have progressed a lot in this aspect, or because they think more about death) and this leads them to an existential crisis. That is, to wonder about what matters to them in life.
The inability to fill this void takes the form of the midlife crisis in a version of the 50's crisis in a version characterized by disorientation and the discomfort of not knowing and the discomfort of not knowing where to start to make their lives exciting.
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(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)