Lecture 8 Middle Adulthood (age of your parents)
March 17, 2014
If you were to win 1000000, how would you invest it?
+5% guaranteed? Or -5% guaranteed?
You would invest it in the +5% guaranteed.
-The 1000000 is your self esteem
-In what qualities/assets do you invest your self-esteem?
-You can establish your self-esteem on your taste for music, your style and so forth.
-You can base your self-esteem on accomplishments, relationship skills and relations, skills,
internal factors (things you control on your own), physical appearance, and physical strength
-Do you link your self-esteem to something that will grow in time? Or to something that is
guaranteed to depreciate in time?
Social Skills (friendships) – grow in time – good investment
Accomplishments – accumulates on one of top of another – good investment
Physical appearance and strength – not good investment in long term as beauty and strength
(faster runner, or swimmer) deteriorates overtime; thus it is not a good investment. However, it
all depends on how you acknowledge your strength.
-Self-esteem can be established on something that it is strong, has the potential to grow or
something that is depreciating.
Overvalued Ideas – in some unconscious way we tend to establish some ideas that lead our
life. That actually has the power to push and pull us forward to get various things from life.
Those typically are not rational, they are not really good values; they are overvalued values and
they pull us to places that actually don’t serve us to get our best interest fulfilled.
For example: to be the fastest athlete good for a short time but its temporary (it’s an
overvalued idea), if you try to pursue this and live with this, you can find yourself quite depleted
after you achieve that goal. If you define your goal only to be a fastest runner or swimmer, what
will be your next goal once you achieve that goal or if your body deteriorates and no longer
allows your body to pursue in that direction? If there is only one goal in life and once you
achieve it, you start to feel empty.
What are the typical overvalued ideas in our culture?
Money – money is important to live and survive. Lack of money does bring misery but having
more than enough money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness.
Physical Beauty and Youth – cherished in our western society but it doesn’t give you
satisfaction in the long run. Eg: African Oscar Winner – letter from a fan about being dark.
Internal vs External Beauty - Inner beauty can sustain, not the outer beauty.
Physical Development in Middle Adulthood is not a very good investment for self-esteem
Height: Getting shorter
Weight: getting fatter, “middle-aged spread”
Vision – less visual acuity
Hearing – hearing impairment, often damages hearing in high frequencies Reaction time - 20% slowing in reaction time from 20 to 60 years
Implications to driving – middle aged adults are actually better drivers than young adults
because of their roles of skills, experience and mature attitude while driving.
Phenomenon of Ageism – being prejudice against getting older (ageism). Why so? People
think that growing old is something bad but growing old is natural; it’s part of life – it’s in our
Overvalued Ideas: Youth (Anti-Aging search results: almost 17 million hits in less than 0.40
seconds on google)
-Our society (especially in the west) are extremely obsessed with youth and physical
appearance; Anti-Aging puts emphasis on appearance; we are obsessed with youth, thus we
strive to look younger and to offer cosmetics, plastic surgeries, face creams in attempt to
change our appearance to not look old or your age, which goes against rational thinking we try
to establish when we think about our self-esteem; however self-esteem should be based on
something that is sustainable therefore it should be inner beauty not external beauty that fades
-Instead of anti-aging movement, a more reasonable movement is health enhancement - a
concept that healthy lifestyle can counter some of the problematic aspects of age because our
lifestyle is totally unhealthy; our body is designed to be active, to run, to walk to do something
physical. Thus to enhance our life and our health, we should exercise or become active to
counter our bad lifestyle that accumulates overtime.
Healthy life style:
The importance of exercise:-
On muscles: slows the decline of muscle strength, muscle cell thickness, number of muscle
cells, muscle mass, blood supply to the muscles, the speed of movement, the stamina, it slows
the increase in fat and fibers, slows the deterioration in reaction time and development of
muscles storing ability
Has positive impact on the nervous system – slows the decline in the processing impulses by
the central nervous system
On circulatory system: it lowers the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increases the good
cholesterol (HDL): it lowers hyper tension and as a result we have less atherosclerosis, heart
attack, and stroke
On skeletal system: it creates a slower decline in bone marrow, and decreases the risk of
fractures, and osteoporosis
On psychological state: exercise has incredible effect on stress - it decreases your vulnerability
to stress, decreases hostility and aggression, decreases level of anxiety and mild depression
(note: exercise is good for mild depression, not for acute depression)
Middle Adulthood Sexuality decline in the frequency; have less sex
Impact of grown up kids provides privacy to the parents
Impact of menopause there is no or little risk of getting pregnant
In men there is more difficulty to fully reach erection, ejaculating fluid has less volume
In women: some of them find it painful to have full intercourse but becomes easy to get around
with simple treatment
Female Climacteric: -only 10% of female experience severe distress in menopause and about 15% of women
experience no symptoms.
Cross Cultural aspects:
In term of Race:
-Asian women have fewer symptoms than other races – because of their social values and
standards, their culture doesn’t allow them to complain too much, they don’t get social
acceptance and that’s why these symptoms can be repressed or denied and therefore these
symptoms will not be reported by them.
-African American report more hot flashes (no explanation)
-Hispanic and Caucasian report overall more symptoms in general
In term of Culture:
In some culture, (in the west) women expect menopause with dread. However, in other cultures,
women may look forward to the menopause as the end to child bearing and getting higher social
status because menopause and becoming an older women is to be considered to be positive in
terms of becoming wiser; there is no taboo during menstrual and it is very frequent in those
-In the west women see this as a big problem and they are often engage in hormone
replacement therapy or HRT (drug for menopause); Estrogen and progesterone – replacement
given to the women and as a result it is very effective and helpful in terms of eliminating
However, the risks to this are higher risk of cancer, heart attack, strokes, and blood clots
Conclusion: HRT should be taken with care while considering pros and cons and it should be
taken on individual basis.
The myth – women experience emotional suffering; however, researchers show that only
minority of women suffer from severe emotional difficulty such as aggression, anxiety, lack of
concentration, and irritability.
Expectations - The research also suggests that expectations may play a great role in the
symptomology such as in self-fulfilling prophecy because this is part of the culture women
expect to feel badly about it and it can already be produced..(?)But if you get out of self-fulfilling
prophecy, you may go through that period without any special symptomology.
In terms of culture background – culture also plays a major role in symptomology, and there are
definite beliefs of menopause frequencies in symptomology
-Starts late in middle age men – closer to age 60 and it is a very gradual decline
-Problem with men is the occurrence of enlargement of prostate glands– that is typical of 10% of
men around the age of 40 years, but 50% of men around the age of 80 years shows the
enlargement of prostate glands.
-Prostate enlargement causes problems in terms of urination.
Health in middle adulthood
-It becomes an issue of great concern not because people at this age are very sick but because
people at this age are much more aware of the potential to become sick and they are more
aware of the finality of life. The younger adults usually tend to repress or deny these thought of
feelings, about deterioration in health and death. But this denial does not typically prolong into
middle aged and people during that period of time to be far more aware about health issues. -For most people between the age of 45 and 65, health is actually quite good; people at that age
less tend to be infected by infections of other things and digestive problems than younger
adults; in these problems they are superior to younger adults. However, chronic problems may
come up to the surface; however the vast majority of people during this phase of life don’t
experience chronic problems.
The threat of deterioration is strongly experienced by middle age people
Increased vulnerability of chronically disorders and diseases; the prevention and procedures
(tests, examinations) are important to go through such as blood pressure, mammogram and pap
test is highly recommended for women during middle aged, physician and breast self-
examination is very important, and prostate pse for men, cholesterol should be monitored,
regular rectal exam should be done for both men and women and so forth…
-Between the ages of 40 – 50 years is only 3%
-Between the ages of 50 – 60 years is 8%
For most people this is the period for relative health.
Health and Illness: Ethnic and Gender Differences
- In the US, African-Americans vs. Caucasians –the African-Americans are very inferior to
Caucasians in terms of their health due to intervening socio-economic factor; lower socio-
economic level, lower income, lower education, more dangerous working environments and
more stressful lives those in relative more risky positions than Caucasians.
-Women tend to get more sick but less likely to die; they may have minor short term and chronic
diseases, but men usually suffer from more severe diseases or illnesses.
-Different life styles that is characteristic to both African-Americans and particular to men in
general which involves cigarette smoking, alcohol consumptions, dangerous working
environment, and the experience of stress
-Breast Cancer is the most common of cancer and death in women and a major fear for middle
-There is a misconception of reality regarding cancer – people in the past had the tendency to
relate to cancer as a death sentence; it is not anymore. Most people now who are diagnosed
with cancer can benefit from treatments that are offered to them in terms of quality of life; the
figures of effectiveness is only getting better with time, a lot of progress is now being made.
Cancer is usually related to genetics – eg: breast cancer
Environmental factors – poor nutrition, exposure to sunlight, radiation, chemicals and/or
asbestos, smoking, over alcohol consumption
-Since we are now aware of these risks and by taking the right measures we can decrease the
risk of cancer
-It is important to have awareness of what causes cancer in terms of environmental factors and
taking them into consideration and healthy lifestyle is worthwhile investment in in order to
prevent cancer. This prevention can be done through early identification: Regular check-ups are
recommended such as mammograms, routine self-examinations of breasts are extremely
important to prevent breast cancer.
Cancer and psychology -Researchers show that emotions and attitudes are important: “fighting spirits” and positive
thinking are important because it increases your chances of overcoming terminal diseases such
as cancer; being optimistic, accepting and having the “fighting spirit” helps recruit killer cells in
the immune system that can have a positive effect in fighting the cancer cells.
-On the other hand, passive acceptance and hopelessness may have an opposite effect on
-Psychotherapy is useful in coping with cancer in adjunct to medical treatments; it increases
both your capacity to cope with cancer and at the same time there is an option for you to
express you negative feelings or your bad emotions in order to get it out of your way and recruit
your positive thinking.
Note: For cognitive development – refer back to what you learned in the previous lectures.
Personality and Emotional Development
Two theoretical models:
Normative Crisis Model – refers to universal stages tied to a sequence of age