By Graham D. Rowles
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Eisdorfer & M. P. ), The psychology of adult development and aging. Washington, D. C : American Psychological Association, 1973. Levinson, D. The seasons of a man's life. New York: Knopf, 1978. Lopata, H. Z. The widowed family member. In N. Datan & N. ), Transitions of aging. New York: Academic Press, 1980. , & Lawton, M. P. Similarity and propinquity in friendship formation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1975, 32, 2 0 5 - 2 1 3 . Neugarten, Β. L. The awareness of middle age. In B.
At the same time that the developing infant is beginning to trust and depend upon the caretaking parents, paradoxically, the first steps toward autonomy are also being taken. Thus, early in life, primary narcissism is the natural state; slowly this yeilds to awareness of others and of dependence on them, together with the almost imperceptible beginnings of autonomous activity. Moving on to the interface between adolescence and young adulthood, we find that dramatic transformations have occurred in the three relational modes.
The family life cycle brings the children to the omnipotentiality of adolescence just as their parents are confronting the finitude of middle and old age. Thus the narcissism once invested in the young child is threatened by the adolescent; the activity once expressed as responsibility for the children becomes superfluous as the children become responsible for themselves (although increasingly, and we shall see even more of this in the future, middle-aged parents become responsible for their own aging parents); and finally, the erotic ties of adult genital love maybe vulnerable to the asynchrony between the sexes.