Monday, September 27, 2010

Male mid life crisis

This of course is generalising about men but I think it is representative of a significant group of men.

The young adult male can have a large Free Child ego state which he enjoys in his activities as a young man. There are two events in his life which significantly change this. First when he becomes a husband and the second when he becomes a father.

In both these events there is a loss of Free Child as he assumes a more responsible role in life. Usually this happens spontaneously in his own mind. He sees that this is the right thing to do as a husband and father. The woman in his life does not have to say anything for him to make this change in his personality. In other instances the woman may exert pressure on him to assume this more responsible role in life.

Sleepy soldiers
Doing the right thing

The bottom line of this change however is the Free Child will feel unsatisfied to some degree. For some men that is just a little and for other men it can be much more pronounced. As I said before the man will often do this in his own mind himself as he thinks it is the right thing to do. Sometimes the wife may also exert pressure for this to happen.

As a result of this change in his mind there is a crucial period from the mid 20s up until about 40 years of age. In this period there maybe a change in his life where slowly there is a loss of contacts and activities that were Free Child related. Then he reaches about 40 years of age. Some men at that point will look back over the past 20 years and it becomes apparent to him the transformation that occurred over those years in the way just described.

Then he looks forward to the next 30 years and he sees fairly much the same. He is then faced with the question of the meaning of his life. If he sees 30 years more of high responsibility and low Free Child that may come as quite a shock. It is this that can precipitate a psychological shift, sometimes quite sudden, back to an adolescent psyche similar to what Eric Berne called antiscript phase of adolescent development.

Men rowing

He may end a marriage, buy a sports car, date women half his age, take up sport he played 20 years ago, loose weight, dress in a way that is quite unbecoming and by and large live in an adolescent way on the singles scene.

He is doing the same as the teenager does from a psychological development point of view. The direction his life is going (his life script) scares him and this is a loud and unsophisticated attempt to do something about it. He does not know what else to do.

What to do seems quite clear. The Free Child needs to get satisfied over the long period when it was neglected. How this is done of course varies from man to man. What does the boy want? It maybe something that he did all those years ago from fishing, to hunting, to golf, to surfing, to the football, to having a regular night out with his mates. Or it maybe something else that is less boyish but still meets the Free Child needs.

Leap frog

The hard part is keeping this in his life with all the pressures of fatherhood and mortgages and then there is his relationship with his wife. She may have a problem with him doing such things. In Australian culture you don’t often hear of a wife who regularly encourages a husband to do such things. This is probably most often due to the fact that she simply does not realise what is happening in his psyche over such a long period of time. How can she when he probably is not even aware of it himself.

However one thing is true for all members of the human race, if the Free Child needs are not met in a satisfactory way over a long period of time then sooner or later something drastic is going to happen. There will be a psychological explosion of some kind. Just go ask the Catholic church.



  1. this is something I should track in myself as I am in the prime years :)

    timely post, however I wonder if I hadn't read this on my way home from work, would my FC feel such sentiment to those lost opportunities? Or is this entry a trigger? (tonight I'm like "I don't feel like washing you and stuff, just go to sleep asap and I would like to play or get drunk or go out or something (but need to wake up tomorrow at six, so will go to bed instead ;(

    And are women any different with respect to these matters?

  2. Zbig,

    I had the same reaction to this post that you did – and I’m NOT male. I’ve been busy raising kids, working a thankless job in a giant corporation for over 25 years, taking care of aging grandparents, and back in school for the past three years preparing for my next life. I’m pretty sure my FC is in a coma if it isn’t totally dead. "Psychological explosion," says Tony??? I say, "Bring on the fireworks!"

  3. Hi Zbig,

    All I put together was bunch of words that will have different psychological meaning to those who read it.

    If you had the reaction that you did then that sounds like a trigger to me which means the FC is feeling neglected.


  4. Hello KYLady,

    One does not hear so much of females doing the same sort of things males do with the midlife crisis thing I talk of. Maybe they do but in just a different way.

    Maybe I chose not a good word with 'fireworks' as that tends to have positive conatations. A psychological explosion can be a depressive episode or an alcohol problem and the like. There are plenty of men who do not have the mid life crisis like I discussed and instead end up embittered heavy drinkers until the day they die because of prolonged FC deprivation.


  5. yeah Tony, I wouldn't like it to sound like I "accuse" you of my feelings or anything like "complain" - I enter this excellent blog perfectly aware that this "bunch of words" may draw my attention to something latent, hidden, subconscious - and I like it :)

  6. KYLady,
    at least maybe your "next life" will have more to offer to your FC?
    If I change my career I hope mine would do so.

  7. Hi Zbig,
    Good comment. That subconscious always seems to be lurking around somewhere there in the back ground.



  8. Zbig – yes, the next career is going to be much doubt about it. Less money, but definitely more fun.

    Tony –I won’t pretend to know what a mid-life crisis is from a man’s perspective. I’ve seen it happen to a few, unfortunately for their wives and children. I’m planning on something more like a mid-life major upgrade with no crisis involved.