Midlife crisis is a term coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques and used in Western societies to describe a period of dramatic self-doubt that is felt by some individuals in the "middle years" or middle age of life, as a result of sensing the passing of their own youth and the imminence of their old age. Sometimes, a crisis can be triggered by transitions experienced in these years, such as extramarital affairs, andropause or menopause, the death of parents or other causes of grief, unemployment or underemployment, realizing that a job or career is hated but not knowing how else to earn an equivalent living, or children leaving home. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in core aspects of day-to-day life or situation, such as in career, work-life balance, marriage, romantic relationships, big-ticket expenditures, or physical appearance.
Academic research since the 1980s rejects the notion of midlife crisis as a phase that most adults go through. In one study, fewer than 10% of people in the United States had psychological crises due to their age or ageing. Personality type and a history of psychological crisis are believed to predispose some people to this "traditional" midlife crisis. People going through this suffer a variety of symptoms and exhibit a disparate range of behaviors.
Many middle aged adults experience major life events that can cause a period of psychological stress or depression, such as the death of a loved one, or a career setback. However, those events could have happened earlier or later in life, making them a "crisis," but not necessarily a midlife one. In the same study, 15% of middle-aged adults experienced this type of midlife turmoil.
Some studies indicate that some cultures may be more sensitive to this phenomenon than others, one study found that there is little evidence that people undergo midlife crises in Japanese and Indian cultures, raising the question of whether a midlife crises is mainly a cultural construct. The authors hypothesized that the "culture of youth" in Western societies accounts for the popularity of the midlife crisis concept there.
Researchers have found that midlife is often a time for reflection and reassessment, but this is not always accompanied by the psychological upheaval popularly associated with "midlife crisis".
Individuals experiencing a mid-life crisis have some of these feelings:
* search of an undefined dream or goal
* a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
* desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
* need to spend more time alone or with certain peers
They exhibit some of these behaviors:
* abuse of alcohol
* acquisition of unusual or expensive items such as motorbikes, boats, clothing, sports cars, jewelry, gadgets, tattoos, piercings, etc.
* blaming themselves or their partner for their failures.
* paying special attention to physical appearance such as covering baldness, wearing "younger" designer clothes etc.
* entering relationships with younger people (either/or sexual, professional, parental, etc.)
* placing overimportance (and possibly a psychologically damaging amount) on their children to excel in areas such as sports, arts or academics.