Midlife Crisis?
[P. J.] [RU] [FR]

Midlife Crisis?

Psychotherapists love to talk about the psychological crisis many people experience in the age of 35-45. Numerous explanations have been suggested, such as the loss of parental support and inability to find a social substitute, the feeling of too much completion, the recognition of the vanity of the dreams of youth, development of behavioral scripts inherited from parents or grand-parents, changes in sexuality, or... All such explanations are individual centered, and the only solution available within this approach is to advice a kind of self-reconstruction, changing one's attitudes and views, rather than doing anything to the world.

However, there is nothing subjective without an objective cause, and one must always seek for the roots of a psychological crisis in the person's economic position and social environment. Just make somebody feels that there is no real need in his/her existence—and the inner crisis is up there. One does need to reach any particular age; the crises of that kind can happen to anybody. For instance, psychologists also talk about quarter-life crisis accompanying the transformation of an adolescent into adult. In a way, the crisis of adolescence could be treated in the same lines. To get the idea of how the society blocks the future for its ageing members, just leaf trough the job offer columns in Russian newspapers: nearly all of them contain the words like "aged below 35", or sometimes "below 40", with very rare exceptions of "below 45" or "below 50". For women, the limit is even lower, and those who lose their job at 40 have practically no chance to recover. There is even a special term: "economically active population" (putting aside the social discrimination by the criterion of "reproductive activity"). Since senior ages have limited opportunities for additional education, people of 40 above are automatically put out of labor market if their profession is no longer needed; there is no option of professional reorientation. To summarize, the society does not need people above 40, and this is reflected in their minds in the form of the midlife crisis.

The demand of certain competences is one of the social causes of the quarter-life crisis. Young people have little work experience, and that is why they usually cannot pretend to a descent position, which is psychologically felt as being unnecessary. Obviously, if one had real possibility to start a new life at any time, with free education and no need to worry about supporting the family and the house, there would be nothing tragic in achieving the next threshold in one's activity. One could easily choose a different road, or just wait a little, to think it all over and decide what to do next. Midlife crisis is a result of artificially imposed stress and frustration: one can never stop struggling for life, and there are always barriers that cannot be lifted just because the society is organized that way.

Of course, Russia is no exception. The same holds for highly developed countries like France, Great Britain or the USA. However, in these countries, the wild capitalism of the past has been long since moderated by various forms of non-economic regulation, and the age limitations cannot be imposed as blatantly as in Russia, so that the employers have to invent numerous ways of hidden discrimination. To justify the selection of a younger candidate, an employer can always refer to their better performance, and this may be true in many cases, since the younger applicants are often educated in more compliance with the current demands, they are more aggressive, they have fewer problems with their family and health. Similarly, better performance can be a convenient pretext to dismiss too young candidates. Some countries launched special governmental programs to assist these population groups with employment. However, these measures contradict the economic nature of capitalism and hence they will be first to perish as soon as the economy encounters any serious troubles.

[Assorted Notes] [Unism]