The decades of life : a guide to human development Capp

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Title: The decades of life : a guide to human development

Author: Donald Capp

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In groundbreaking fashion Donald Capps builds on Erik Erikson's work on the eight stages of life by focusing on the decades of life. This important modification allows developmental theory to be applied to the way people discuss life stages--in ten-year periods. Capps integrates the insights of psychology with those of pastoral care to show pastors and students how the decades of life help us all to understand the journey of life.



    • “Freud and the Concept of Stages”
      • “Freud proposed three stages of psychosexual development in infancy and early childhood, a fourth stage in late childhood, and a fifth stage in adolescence. The three early stages are popularly known as the oral, anal, and genital stages, terms that refer to the primary focus of the child's psychosexual development. ”
      • “Erikson's life-cycle model, especially its first five stages, reflects his adoption of Freud's theory of psychosexual development. But because he wanted to place greater emphasis on the psychosocial (or relational meanings) of the psychosexual stages, he suggested that each of the psychosexual "organ zones" that Freud identified have a corresponding "psychosocial mode.”
    • “Shakespeare and the Life Span”
      • Erikson proposes that the life span consists of eight stages of unequal duration and that each of the stages involves a dynamic interaction or conflict between a positive tendency and a negative tendency or tendencies. I use the word tendency because it refers to "an inclination or disposition to move in a particular direction or act in a certain way, especially as a result of some inherent quality or habit"
        • “Infancy: Basic Trust vs. Basic Mistrust
        • Early Childhood: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
        • Play Age: Initiative vs. Guilt”
        • “School Age: Industry vs. Inferiority
        • adolescence: Identity vs. Identity Confusion
        • Young Adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation
        • Maturity: Generativity vs. Stagnation
        • Old Age: Integrity vs. Despair and Disgust”
      • “The flexibility of the stages is one of the real strengths of the model because it recognizes that we are individuals, and each individual life has its own unique form and structure.”
      • “Each stage involves a dynamic interaction between a positive and one or more negative tendencies. Erikson believed that both are integral to healthy development. ”
      • In addition to the "ratio" of positive and negative tendencies, there are other important principles or assumptions:
        1. (that we carry earlier stage dynamics with us as we move to subsequent stages and that earlier dynamics therefore interact with later ones;
        2. that we may experience in rudimentary fashion later-stage dynamics before we reach the appropriate chronological age, largely because we are a future-oriented species with eyes in the front of our heads;
        3. that earlier-stage dynamics may be reworked in later stages;
        4. that physiological development (or decline) plays a major role in the movement from one stage to another because new physiological capacities make for new psychosocial experiences and challenges;
        5. that there may be differences as to when individuals enter or exit a stage, and that some of these differences are due to cultural traditions; and
        6. that having a more optimal ratio of the positive over the negative tendencies becomes cumulative, even as the greater ratio of the negative over the positive tendencies also becomes cumulative
        • “The chapter headings of this book reflect my proposal that we consider the virtues to be the various selves which comprise the composite Self.”
        • Having argued in the revision of the Childhood and Society (1963) for the chart's usefulness, he noted that "a chart is only a tool to think with, and cannot aspire to be a prescription to abide by, whether in the practice of child-training, in psychotherapy, or in the methodology of Child Study.
        • “Joan Erikson presents it as a weaving. She notes that this way of representing it emphasizes the integrity of the stages themselves because their interrelatedness--their interwovenness--is clearly depicted through a weaving”
        • “But what the weaving, like the chart, could not do was to depict the cyclical nature of the whole of life. This feature is effectively portrayed in a video created by John and Faith Hubley titled "Everybody Rides the Carousel”
        • “Following the decades approach employed for the earlier years of life, I propose a different way of construing the ninth and tenth decades. It involves the creation of two new psychosocial conflicts: release vs. control and the virtue of gracefulness for the ninth decade, and desire vs. struggle and the virtue of endurance for the tenth. A "ratio" that favors the positive over the negative tendency in these two conflicts would also be conducive to gerotranscendence.”

Part I. The pre-adult decades - Chapter 1 The First Decade: The Hopeful Self

  • “My concern is to show that the first decade (from birth through age nine) is one in which the dynamic conflict of basic trust vs. basic mistrust is central, and that the second decade (from age ten through age nineteen) is one in which the dynamic conflict of autonomy vs. shame and doubt is central.”
    • “For Erikson, the trust versus mistrust conflict occurs between birth and age one”
    • “Here, he suggests that basic trust "is an attitude toward oneself and the world derived from the experiences of the first year of life" (55-56). This suggests that the first year of life is decisive for the basic trust on which one relies throughout life. By trust he means "what is commonly implied in reasonable trustfulness as far as “others are concerned and a simple sense of trustworthiness as far as oneself is concerned”
    • “The infant's second social achievement is to become trustworthy. Here, the infant needs to learn to exercise some restraint, to control certain urges, so that he does not do things that cause his mother to withdraw”
    • “Erikson suggests that religion is the institutional safeguard of basic trust. In the first year of life, the infant “s unaware of the very existence of institutionalized religion, but as the first decade unfolds, children tend either to become involved in an expression of institutionalized religion or to be conscious of the fact that other children are. ”
    • “Erikson assigns the human strength or virtue of hope to the basic trust vs. basic mistrust life-cycle stage.
    • “Erikson (1964a) defines hope somewhat differently, largely because he wants to relate it to the first stage of life: "Hope is the enduring belief in the attainability of fervent wishes, in spite of the dark urges and rages which mark the beginning of existence”
    • Long drawn out story of a patient of Erikson
    • “When he was a young schoolboy, Augustine was severely beaten by his teachers at school for being "slow at learning" (51). Though this was bad enough, even worse was the fact that the boys' parents "laughed at the torments [they] suffered from [their] teachers”
    • “Most troubling of all was the fact that when he prayed to God that he would be spared the beatings, God did not hear or listen either. Thus, there was no one to whom he could turn. As a result, he began to mistrust himself,”
    • “The beatings by his teachers, therefore, undermined the two major achievements of infancy: trust and trustworthiness”
    • “In The Long Loneliness Dorothy Day (1952), founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, tells about her experiences during the San Francisco earthquake that occurred on April 18, 1906.”
    • “Yet, on the positive side, Day recalls that "all the neighbors joined [her] mother in serving the homeless" refugees from San Francisco which, unlike Oakland, had been ravaged by fire. "Another thing I remember about California" she writes, "was the joy of doing good, of sharing whatever we had with others after the earthquake, an event which threw us out of our complacent happiness into a world of catastrophe”
    • Tells story about himself
    • Where children are permitted and encouraged to express their inner disposition to hope, they possess the foundation for a reasonably coherent and generally healthy Self. The greatest threat to the formation of a hopeful self is despair, the feeling that our future is closed, that what we desire will not occur.”
    • “Erikson, however, notes that "Hope is the ontogenetic basis of faith" (Erikson 1964a, 118) and the author of Hebrews says that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for" (11:1).”

Chapter 2 The Second Decade: The Willing Self

  • “In a sense, the decades perspective enables us to take the child's own perspective, because, for most children, the transition from nine to ten is a momentous occasion.”
  • “The new decade promises and portends many things. Among them, I suggest, is the dynamic conflict of autonomy vs. shame and doubt. Autonomous strivings will play a dominant role in this decade, but so will experiences and feelings of shame and of doubt”


  • Again he gives Webster's definition of terms
  • “autonomy as "the fact or condition of being autonomous; self-government; independence”. “This definition reflects the two basic meanings of autonomous: "having self-government" and "functioning independently without control by others”
  • “Heteronomy means "subject to another's laws or rule" ”
  • “I believe, though, that Erikson actually had the other meaning in mind, that of self-governance, and that his readers fail to recognize this because the meaning itself is not used very much today.”
  • Doubt: “a condition of uncertainty," or "to hesitate," or "apprehension or fear" ”
  • “Erikson intended his selection of these items from Spock's book to convey "the range of problems" that are likely to emerge at this stage of life. He also applauded the doctor's "excellent advice" and his "good balance" in depicting "the remarkable ease and matter-of-factness with which the nursery may be governed”
  • “What is shame? Erikson emphasizes that it is the sense of being exposed. Thus, shame "supposes that one is completely exposed and conscious of being looked at--in a word, self-conscious. One is “visible and not ready to be visible" ”
  • “He suggests that the "kind and degree of a sense of autonomy which parents are able to grant their small children depends on the dignify and the sense of personal independence which they derive from their own lives. Just as the sense of trust is a reflection of the parents' sturdy and realistic faith, so is the sense of autonomy a reflection of the parents' dignity as individuals”


  • “Erikson assigns the human strength or virtue of will to the second life stage”
  • “Will is the unbroken determination to exercise free choice as well as self-restraint, in spite of the unavoidable experience of shame and doubt in infancy”
  • “The very idea that will is a virtue means that the child is developing a will that is fundamentally good.”
  • “There are several grounds for locating the autonomy vs. shame and doubt conflict in the second decade of life. I will mention three. The first is that this is the decade in which one is experiencing dramatic physiological changes that, like the physiological changes in the second stage of life but on a much larger scale, are changing the ways in which one relates to others, both one's peers and those in authority.”
  • “The second is that this is the decade in which shame moves from the adult-child arena and enters the arena of peer-group relationships.”


  • “He [Erikson] suggests that the child's sense of autonomy depends on "the dignity and the sense of personal independence" that the parents derive from their own lives. ”
  • “In the final analysis, the relationship between a parent and “a son (or daughter) should not be a matter of winners and losers. ”


  • “This is the autonomy that Erikson identifies in his observation that despite the fact that one is often defeated, one "nevertheless learns to accept the existential paradox of making decisions which he knows 'deep down' will be predetermined by events, because making decisions is part of the evaluative quality inherent in being alive”

PART TWO THE YOUNGER-ADULT DECADES - Chapter 3 The Third Decade: The Purposeful Self

  • “In this sense, turning twenty-one is a rather insignificant event in comparison to the experience of entering one's twenties.”
  • “Following the sequence of Erikson's life stages, I assign the initiative vs. guilt conflict to the third decade of life. ”


  • “Webster's defines initiative as "the action of taking the first step or move; responsibility for beginning or originating," and the "ability to think and act without being urged" (Agnes 2001, 735). It defines guilt as "the state of having done a wrong or committed an offense" and "a painful feeling of self-reproach resulting from a belief that one has done something wrong" ”
  • “Thus, the initiative vs. guilt conflict centers to a great extent on being active, or being an actor and not a passive observer. It also concerns responsibility, both for beginning or originating something, and for being held personally accountable for what one has done.”
  • “The most important evidence that a sense of initiative is developing is that the child seems to be "self-activated": "He is in free possession of a certain surplus of energy which permits him to forget failures quickly and to approach what seems desirable (even if it also seems dangerous) with undiminished and better aimed effort" ”
  • “basic social modality in the third stage is "being on the make," which suggests enjoyment of competition, insistence on goals, and pleasure of conquest.”


  • “Webster's defines purpose as (1) "something one intends to get or do"; (2) "resolution [or] determination"; and (3) "the object for which something exists or is done; end in view." Purposeful means, "resolutely aiming at a specific goal" or "directed toward a specific end"; thus the action or activity is "not meaningless," whereas purposeless implies action or activity that is aimless (Agnes 2001, 1165). Thus, if initiative connotes action or agency as opposed to inaction or passivity, purpose adds that the action is goal directed and has a reason behind it. Put another way, the purpose of the action is not merely for the sake of being active.”
  • “I propose locating the initiative vs. guilt conflict in the third decade of life ... “it is the decade in which one's life focuses on initiative, on taking responsibility for becoming a worker and making important decisions for one's life without having to be urged by others--parents, siblings, friends, and other interested adults.”


  • “Webster's defines inhibition as a mental or psychological process that restrains or suppresses an action, emotion, or thought (Agnes 2001, 735). Thus, there was more to Erikson's problems with painting than the matter of technical skill.”
  • “Erikson's vocational struggles in his twenties are thus a good example of the initiative vs. guilt conflict. ”




  • “In their twenties, Erik, Sally and Wendy responded to the threats to their development of a sense and spirit of purposefulness in their own unique ways, and there was little uniformity in the degree of their success in becoming purposeful selves. ”
  • “These same adults, however, should also avoid the temptation to advise a set timetable for the younger adult to follow, for the only clock that should really matter is the internal one, and this, too, differs from one individual to another.”

Chapter 4 The Fourth Decade: The Competent Self


  • “Webster's defines industry as "earnest, steady effort, constant diligence in or application to work," and "systematic work; habitual employment" (Agnes 2001, 729). Diligence suggests "constant, careful effort" and "perseverance" ”
  • “Erik-son's choice of the word inferiority conveys the sense that the inability to function in an industrious manner may be due to one's sense of one's own inadequacies, which may be due to circumstances over which one has relatively little control. ”
  • “According to the dictionary, inferiority “means "low or lower in order, status, rank, etc.," "poor in quality," and "below average" ”


  • Erikson assigns the virtue of competence to this stage. Webster's defines competence as "a condition or quality of being competent" and competent 2& "well qualified; capable; fit (a competent doctor)" and "sufficient; adequate ”
  • “Despite the fact that the school age (from five to twelve) is chronologically longer than the previous stages put together, this time frame allows for only the “most rudimentary experience of industry. ”
  • “In my view, the decade in which such learning is centrally important is the fourth decade of life, when one typically settles into "systematic work" and "habitual employment" requiring both "diligence" and "perseverance”


  • “Erikson's industry vs. inferiority conflict helps us to understand what had taken place. As noted earlier, inferiority conveys the idea that the inability to function with a genuine sense of industry may be due to one's own inadequacies, and these, in turn, may be due to circumstances over which one has relatively little control.”



Part III The middle adult decades “PART THREE THE MIDDLE ADULT DECADES Chapter 5 The Fifth Decade: The Faithful Self”

  • “Perhaps a good way to look at the person turning forty is that immaturity is no longer a convincing excuse for poor work or stupid actions, and it is no longer considered a sign of precociousness when one makes a mature judgment”


  • “Webster's has two definitions of the word identity. The first focuses on the group or aggregate: identity means "the condition or fact of being the same or exactly alike; sameness; oneness (such as groups united by identity of interests)" (Agnes 2001, 708). The second, which focuses on the individual, has three meanings: (1) "the “condition or fact of being a specific person or thing; individuality"; (2) "the characteristics and qualities of a person, considered collectively and regarded as essential to that person's self-awareness"; and (3) "the condition of being the same as a person or thing described or claimed"


  • “Webster's defines fidelity as "faithful devotion to duty or to one's obligations or vows; loyalty; faithfulness”
  • “Although identity and fidelity are necessary for ethical strength, they do not provide it in themselves. Adults must provide the content for the loyalty that youth are prepared to offer and worthy objects for their need to repudiate.”
  • “Erikson makes a persuasive case for locating the identity vs. identity confusion conflict in the second decade of the life cycle. I do not wish to challenge the idea that there is a rudimentary struggle with this conflict during this period. At the same time, I believe that the fifth decade of life (the forties) is one in which there is an effort to realize a lasting sense of identity. It is the decade when one undergoes a profound "identity crisis" as Webster's defines it: "the condition of being uncertain of one's feelings about oneself, especially with regard to character, goals, and origins" ”
  • “It is significant, therefore, that the very first personal autobiography, Augustine's Confessions (1960), which he wrote sometime between the ages of forty-three and forty-seven, focused on the author's religious struggles.”


  • “My proposal that the identity and identity confusion conflict is central to the fifth decade of life (forty to forty-nine) makes it noteworthy that Erikson was in his fifth decade when he began to employ the term "identity crisis.”



  • “As we have seen, Erikson (1968) does not view "crisis" as an "impending catastrophe" but as "a necessary turning point, a crucial moment, when development must move one way or another, marshaling resources of growth, recovery, differentiation" ”


  • “That the faithful self should come to prominence in the fifth decade of life is especially appropriate, for, as noted earlier, this is the decade when we first confront the implications of the fact that we are both young and old. ”

Chapter 6 The Sixth Decade: The Loving Self

  • “This poem beautifully expresses the intimacy vs. isolation conflict that Erick-son locates in young adulthood but that I have assigned to the sixth decade of life (the fifties).”
  • “Webster's defines intimacy as "the state of being intimate" and notes that the word is sometimes used to suggest a sexual act ("intimacies" between two persons) (Agnes 2001, 748). The relevant definitions of intimate are (1) "most private or personal (his intimate feelings)"; and (2) "closely acquainted or associated; very familiar (an intimate friend)" (748). Thus, intimacy connotes that which is private, personal, and close--the opposite of public, impersonal, and distant. Webster's defines isolation as an isolating action or being isolated (Agnes 2001, 758). The relevant definitions of isolate are (1) "to set apart from others; place alone"; and (2) "a person who is separated from normal social activity, as through choice, rejection, psychological problems, etc." (758). Thus, isolation has the connotation of being alone or separate. When paired with intimacy, the word isolation suggests that this aloneness or separateness is experienced in relationships that are personal and close, not public and distant. ”


  • “As one might have guessed, Webster's has many definitions of the word love, but in its effort to distinguish love from words that might be considered synonyms, it says that love "implies intense fondness or deep devotion and may apply to various relationships or objects" (Agnes 2001, 850). Affection suggests "warm, tender feelings, usually not as powerful or deep as those implied by love," and attachment implies "connection by ties of affection, attraction, devotion, etc., and may be felt for inanimate things as well as for people" ”
  • “As we begin our consideration of the relocation of the intimacy vs. isolation conflict from young adulthood to the sixth decade of life (the fifties), I want to expand Erikson's understanding of this conflict to include what William James (1982) terms "the divided self ”


  • Long, long story 12 pages.


  • “As we have seen, intimacy concerns that which is most private, personal, and close to oneself, while isolation suggests separation and aloneness.”
  • “Although I have focused here on reconnecting with one's childhood, the intimacy vs. isolation conflict may play itself out in various ways in the sixth decade of life: ”


  • “As we have seen, Erikson recognizes that even as the human strength of love may be assigned to a specific life stage, this human strength may also be said to bind all the stages of the life cycle together.”

“Chapter 7 The Seventh Decade: The Caring Self”


  • “As far as Webster's is concerned, there is no such word as generativity, so the words generate and generative will have to suffice. To generate means (1) "to produce (offspring); beget; procreate"; and (2) "to bring into being; cause to be (to generate hope)"; and generative means (1) "the production of offspring; procreative"; and (2) "having the power of producing or originating" ”
  • “Webster's notes that stagnation is the noun form of the verb stagnate, which means "to be or become stagnant." Stagnant has three meanings: (1) "not flowing or moving"; (2) "foul from lack of movement (said of water, etc.)"; and (3) "not active, alert, etc.; sluggish (a stagnant mind)" (Agnes 2001, 1394). Since Erikson uses the word stagnation in reference to humans, the third meaning is most directly relevant, but we may also keep in mind that the first two are metaphorically relevant.”
  • “when generativity is viewed more broadly, it conveys the various and multiple ways in which the generativity vs. stagnation conflict may manifest itself. Generativity involves an expansion of one's personal interests and emotional attachments to include that which has been generated (conceived, originated, produced, etc.) while stagnation suggests either that nothing has been generated or that, once generated, nothing is being done to insure its survival, growth, or development. ”
  • “Thus, the generativity vs. stagnation conflict is the most self-evidently intergenerational of all the conflicts. To invoke Erikson's image of the cogwheel (noted in the introduction), this is the time when the wheel of the one generation is interlocking with the wheel of the other generation. ”


  • “Webster's has five definitions of the word care: ”
  • “Erikson (1964a) states that care is "the widening concern for what has been generated by love, necessity, or accident; it overcomes the ambivalences adhering to irreversible obligation" ”
  • “Teaching, then, is perhaps the most important expression or the virtue of care, and virtually every adult is in one sense or another a teacher.”
  • “I can think of no better illustration of the generativity vs. stagnation conflict in the seventh decade of life than Erikson himself. ”


  • “I can think of no better illustration of the generativity vs. stagnation conflict in the seventh decade of life than Erikson himself. In his sixties, Erikson devoted his professional life to the establishment and guidance of the younger generation.”

The Golden Rule in the Light of New Insight

"The Golden Rule in the Light of New Insight" begins with the observation that Erikson is a clinician of the psychoanalytic school, and that by means of case histories and life histories "we psychoanalysts have begun to discern certain fateful and certain fruitful patterns of interaction in those most concrete categories (parent and child, man and woman, teacher and pupil) which carry the burden of maintenance from generation to generation" (Erikson 1964b, 220).”

Moral Rules, Ethical Ideals, and Ideological Ideas

The Principle of Active Choice

The Strengthening of One Another

On Protest and Affirmation


  • “Erikson suggests that care is "the widening concern for what has been generated by love, necessity, or accident; it overcomes ambivalences adhering to irreversible obligation”
  • “In the earliest formulations of the deadly sins, one that appeared on every list was acedia, a Greek word meaning "not caring." It was reflected in malaise, lassitude, laxness, and apathy. Later, it was translated "sloth," and came to be viewed as laziness and idleness, and its original meaning of "not caring" was more or less lost ”
  • “The sixties are that decade in life when it is especially easy to succumb to apathy, to a state of not caring. For most of us, retirement from our occupations and professions is either happening or looming, and with retirements there may be a loss of interest in earlier investments and engagements, and physical and emotional disengagement from the persons with whom we have associated ”

Part IV. The older adult decades. - Chapter 8 The Eighth Decade: The Wise Self


  • “Webster's has three definitions of integrity: (1) "the quality or state of being complete; unbroken condition; wholeness; entirety"; (2) "the quality or state of being unimpaired; perfect condition; soundness"; and (3) "the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, sincerity" (Agnes 2001, 742). The words that seem especially central to these definitions are complete, unimpaired, wholeness, and soundness.”
  • “Integrity, however, implies that it is more "a way or form of being," so it tends to be relatively immune to changing circumstances.”
  • “Then, apparently dissatisfied with dictionary definitions of the word integrity, he adds, "Lacking a clear definition, I shall point to a few attributes of this state of mind" (98). That he considers it a "state of mind" suggests that it is "a way or form of being”
  • “Acceptance may suggest a sense of resignation (as when a person accepts defeat), but it may also mean approval or a favorable reception ”
  • “Erikson understands despair somewhat differently, but practically speaking it comes down to the same thing--"to be without hope.”
  • “Drawing on his understanding of integrity as "the acceptance of one's own and only life cycle," he suggests that despair is the state of mind in which such acceptance is not forthcoming. Despair "expresses the feeling that time is short, too short for the attempt to start another life and to try out alternate roads to integrity”
  • “In locating the integrity vs. despair and disgust conflict in the final stage of life, Erikson intends the very word integrity to support his representation of human life as a cycle.”


  • For Erikson, wisdom is the virtue of the integrity vs. despair and disgust stage of the life cycle.”
  • “Wisdom is therefore not equated with esoteric knowledge or abstract theorizing. Rather, it is practical, sensible, and capable of explaining why it recommends this over that course of action.”
  • “He notes, however, that when he speaks of a cycle of life, he means "two cycles in one: the cycle of one generation concluding itself in the next, and the cycle of individual life coming to a conclusion" (132-33). This means that the cycle "turns back on its beginnings, so that the very old become again like children"
  • “Erikson proposes that our image of God as commanding voice of conscience may be traced to our early childhood experience of the voice of our fathers; that our image of God as an affirming face, graciously inclined, may be traced to our infancy experience of the face of our mothers; and that our sense of God as "pure nothing" may be traced to the period when we take form in our mother's womb.


Evidence of Integrity

  • Long, long story of Ben


  • When Erikson's wife Joan was eighty-five-years old, her book Wisdom and the Senses (1988) was published. ”

Chapter 9 The Ninth Decade: The Graceful Self

  • “Becoming eighty may represent another major turning point in life, one that may also warrant the term conversion.”
  • “Thus, the 120-year life span in Genesis has held true. It seems plausible, therefore, to suggest that there are two critical junctures in the life span, the first at age forty and the second at age eighty. Levinson calls the first the "mid-life transition." I would call the second the "end-life transition." If the identity vs. identity confusion conflict is associated with the former, what is the conflict associated with the latter? I suggest that it is the conflict of release vs. control.”



  • I suggest that gracefulness is the human strength that assumes an important role in the ninth decade (the eighties) of life. Following the three preceding virtues of care, love, and wisdom,
  • “How does the virtue of gracefulness relate to the release vs. control conflict? The most obvious connection is the definition of release as the granting of freedom from a tax, penalty, or obligation and the definition of grace as a period of time granted beyond the time set for the performance of an act or payment of an obligation.”
  • “Psalm 90:10a says, "The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong." The extra decade may be viewed as involving a combination of the human strength of gracefulness and the grace of God, who grants some a. grace period, one that one knows is unmerited, but for that very reason one may seek to do one's best to justify the favor.”


  • long story about Alice and millie


  • As we have seen, the word graceful, which has to do with "grace or beauty of form, composition, movement, or expression," may be understood in metaphorical terms to relate to everyday interactions between persons, for there can be a certain beauty in the way we relate to one another with simple, everyday thoughtfulness.”


  • In this chapter, I have emphasized the importance of maintaining a ratio of release and control that favors release but at the same time recognizes the need for control in the conduct of our lives. Release and control are not necessarily adversaries. ”

Chapter 10 The Tenth Decade: The Enduring Self


  • “word "desiring," which conveyed an enduring sentiment, and not a mere wish, or want, or craving. The desire that exists inside the hearts, minds, and spirits of persons in their nineties is very similar: it is more enduring than a wish, less urgent than a craving, and less a response to something one lacks than to something one has and does not want to lose.”
  • “If these things are true, it then seems appropriate to view the struggle that occurs in one's nineties (if not earlier) as one in which the conflict between desire vs. struggle is more internal than external.”


  • “But those who do make it to ninety often marvel at the fact that they are still around while so many of their contemporaries are not. For some it's a blessing; for others, a curse; and for most it's a mixed blessing-”
  • “But simple duration is not what makes endurance a virtue. What makes it a virtue is how one expresses or exhibits the power of enduring, especially in the ability to stand pain, distress, and fatigue, and the strength to put up with or tolerate what is happening and what is being done to oneself.”
  • “In both cases, endurance has an association with hope, the virtue that Erikson assigns to the first stage of life. In fact, Erikson (1964a) makes a connection between endurance and hope when he points out that hope is verified by a critical acquisition in infancy, namely, "the secure apperception of an 'object' ”


  • “Freud used the term libido to convey the idea that the pleasure principle is directed toward individuals and objects in the outside world.
  • Libido is based on the Latin word libet, which means it pleases, hence, pleasure. ”
  • “In its original meaning, however, libido referred to psychic energy generally and more specifically "to a basic “form of psychic energy comprising the positive, loving instincts and manifested variously at different stages of personality development" ”
  • “libido is virtually a synonym for the word desire,
  • “Another indication of the poem's relevance to the desire vs. struggle conflict in the tenth decade of life is its suggestion that in old age desire fails. ”
  • “The very idea that desire meets desire across the chasm of death--and does this most reliably in the experience of a dream--brings us back to John Bunyan's (1957) The Pilgrim's Progress”
  • “Desire vs. struggle is the central conflict in the ninth decade of life,”
  • “one of the selves that makes up our composite Self is the enduring self, and that this is the self among our various selves that envisions our continuation beyond the parameters of our earthly life. It seems appropriate, then, to assign this self to the tenth decade of life, ”

Epilogue: The 100 Club

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