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To love and to work, Freud's famous definition of psychological maturity, here becomes the focussing principle for a renewed examination of the dominant themes that play themselves out in adult life. Erik Erikson, Neil Smelser, and nine leading experts in adult development consider the stages that adults pass through and the crises that adults confront as they attempt to create a meaningful life.
Themes of Work and Love in Adulthood is a book that raises many fascinating questions about adult experience. How, for example, does work affect personality? Are love and work in competition; must one be pursued at the expense of the other? Is there a point in life past which men lay less stress on mastery and turn more toward emotional fulfillment? And do women experience a shift in the opposite direction? More generally, why do adult crises fall into predictable patterns and how do adults grow as they respond to these crises? Is the recent broadening of standards for adult conduct an opportunity for personal liberation or a source of personal debilitation?
Much more than a summary of current work on adulthood, Themes of Work and Love in Adulthood is a book full of unusual rewards: Erik Erikson's sensitive reconstruction of the entanglements of love and work revealed in the correspondence between Freud and Jung; Ann Swidler's fascinating discussion of the historical transformation of the love ideal from medieval times to its contemporary form; Robert LeVine's analysis of the adult life course in an African culture. When these unique essays are added to the important position papers by major theorists of adult development--Daniel Levinson, Roger Gould, and Marjorie Fiske--the result is a book that is both useful and exciting.
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