A man lies in bed with his hands covering his face.

Stress is inevitable. But psychologists are learning more about how to keep it from becoming overwhelming. Midlife, in particular, can bring with it many stressful events: divorce, the death of a parent, a stagnating career. In this hour, we’ll discuss how to develop the coping skills needed to meet the challenges of midlife.

Guests:
Barbara Bradley Hagerty,
author, “Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlife”; former religion correspondent, NPR

Karen Reivich, director of resilience training services, Positive Psychology Center at University of Pennsylvania; author, “The Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles”

Steven Southwick, professor of psychiatry, post-traumatic stress disorder and resilience at Yale Medical School

Meeting the Challenges of Midlife 2 August,2017Amanda Stupi

  • geraldfnord

    Death’s eventual inevitability is a simple consequence of being made of matter, but it pains me that because we are made of matter, with a little more cleverness we could have bought a good deal more time for all of us now, both in the form of extra non-senescent years and in freeing us all from the tyranny of jobs…but I guess we needed that energy and time for sports, cosmetics, religions, and non-consensual S&M games like ‘Government’ and ‘Property’.

    That is part of what I’d hope middle age (at the latest) would bring to all: the burning-away of illusion that would reveal the actual Good News—that we are matter and not meant for anything—as well as what is for some of us the Bad: we are made of matter and not meant for anything.

    • William – SF

      One thing that will outlast us all, especially given its personhood status, and of which we are beholden to, are Corporations.

      • geraldfnord

        Charkes Stross has suggested that Corporations are the alien invaders so many fear. I hold that the eruption of vampire fiction were no accident, as is the emphasis I have seen in such away from sex and blood-drinking itself and toward strength and cruelty, of the {Philip K. Dick androids would be sociopaths} sort.

  • geraldfnord

    I dispute the notion that youth were an ‘easy ascendancy’. Some of us start very low indeed, with many handicaps. For most of us, youth is defined by prolonged efforts toward goals—a degree, an house, being delivered of an healthy baby or half-competent high-school graduate—which might be lost entirely at some point before completion with nothing to show for it but trouble and scarring.

    At middle-age, one more generally must maintain day to day, week to week, decade to decade. The work of years is much less luable to sudden and complete loss. Perhaps some may miss grand projects so liable: I submit that their memories are faulty.

    • Noelle

      I’m finding the day to day maintaining sometimes really boring. But it must be done.

      • geraldfnord

        My point, evidently badly made—apoligies—is that it’s less fraught than doing something for days or years that can easily be all to naught.

        Then again, I’ve always been much more interested in the destination than in the journey, the prize rather than the game. If I don’t value the destination or prize I prefer to sit still and to do nothing.

    • Peter

      Speaking of some of those goals, I thought it was strange that Barbara B.H. said around 14 minutes in that “when you’re in your 20s”, “you probably don’t have to pay for college tuition”. But that’s the age when people are MOST likely to have to pay for college tuition. And also when in your 20s, she says, you might not have a family. But most people have their first child when they’re in their 20s, and newborns require far more attention from their parents than older children do.

  • Phyllis Klein

    Why has the concept of “victim” become such a pariah? Aren’t the traumatic events that cause the feeling and thoughts of victimhood real and true? If we tell people “don’t be a victim, be a survivor and thriver” are we not blaming them for true reaction to things they have had not control over? Why not make room for both sets of reactions, so the negative and dark reactions to trauma/stress have a place to be seen and heard also?

    • Noelle

      Good point.

    • geraldfnord

      0.) We live in a primitive Shortage society in which the imperative ‘Don’t let people who don’t do enough [for you] use too many resources—or any, if you can safely kill them or let them die quickly.’ is still widely in play.
      1.) Many people by situation or talwnt are situated such that they are, or are under the illusion that they are, less likely to actually be victims, and so don’t understand that such were really possible. Perceived agency is not equally distributed.

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    A recognition of impermanence is central to much of Eastern philosophy. But along with the transcendent itself, one source of permanence is timeless principles of sustainable relationship. My theory is that certain basic principles of healthy social relationship are the same at every level of society: from the most intimate to the most universal. An exposition of these — and proposed public documents to facilitate their promotion for everyone via education and civic life — may be found at http://www.STARALLIANCE.org.

  • geraldfnord

    How is this typically different, if at all, for the autistic? Many of the problems cited seem unfamiliar to me, and much of what was recommended, e.g. strong social ties, sounds awful to me.

    • Noelle

      Do you have activities that bring you relief from stress?

      • geraldfnord

        Spending time with cats, martial arts, mathematics, light coding, pleasing images (cats, semi- and unclothed women—hardcore pornography, on the other hand, I usually find disturbing—machines, optical illusions), cooking whose ruination at the last minute wouldn’t be over-wasteful.

        But I used to do all those things before: what has changed most has been staying at home and away from humans most of the time. Eliminating stress before it needs relief works best for me.

        • Noelle

          I hear you! Interacting with humans can be a big source of stress. I work at home and don’t interact in person with coworkers and bosses. I do feel a need to interact with humans, but that can also be draining– being aware of this helps.

  • Allison

    My son was in a program in middle school for children with emotional problems (we had some traumatic family events). I had a meeting with his teacher in which she said she didn’t want him to fail at a certain assignment. I was shocked and replied, “If he can’t fail, then he can’t succeed.” I don’t think she knew anything about resilience.

  • susanne

    When my husband left me unexpectedly 2 months before I turned 50, I amassed all the help I could get. One book that I found extremely helpful was Superbetter by Jane McGonigal. Very helpful in giving me concrete, step by step actions to take.

  • geraldfnord

    Mr Shafer:
    Not my point at all. I meant that youth seemed much more fraught for me because one was always liable to losing enormous sunk costs; now, at most I fear spending three hours on a dish but burning it at the last moment.

    And I love rapid technological change—I do hate the news now, but only because of the recent ascendancy of forces that think 1955 were Paradise, segregation and gay-bashing included.

  • Jessica

    I’m guessing being a minority of some type helps because of what one guest said earlier about facing some adversity and therefore knowing how to handle it already.

  • geraldfnord

    On the other hand, there’s really no educational or assistive value to demeaning people—it makes them more resistant to any information you might want them to receive, accept, and act-on.

    …so because it is useless for any good purpose, it does have some value: it marks you as someone who deserves no power and only that bare minimum of respect decency demands for any human, which in its own way is a very considerate warning.

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