New Passages: Mapping Your Life across Time

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People are taking longer to grow up and much longer to grow old. A fifty-year-old woman -- who remains free of cancer and heart disease -- can expect to see her ninety-second birthday. Men, too, can expect a dramatically lengthened life span. The old demarcations and descriptions of adulthood -- beginning at twenty-one and ending at sixty-five -- are hopelessly out of date. In New Passages, Gail Sheehy discovers and maps out a completely new frontier -- a Second Adulthood in middle life.

"Stop and recalculate," ...

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People are taking longer to grow up and much longer to grow old. A fifty-year-old woman -- who remains free of cancer and heart disease -- can expect to see her ninety-second birthday. Men, too, can expect a dramatically lengthened life span. The old demarcations and descriptions of adulthood -- beginning at twenty-one and ending at sixty-five -- are hopelessly out of date. In New Passages, Gail Sheehy discovers and maps out a completely new frontier -- a Second Adulthood in middle life.

"Stop and recalculate," Sheehy writes. "Imagine the day you turn forty-five as the infancy of another life." Instead of declining, men and women who embrace a Second Adulthood are progressing through entirely new passages into lives of deeper meaning, renewed playfulness, and creativity -- beyond both male and female menopause. Through hundreds of personal and group interviews, national surveys of professionals and working-class people, and fresh findings extracted from fifty years of U.S. Census reports, Sheehy vividly dramatizes these newly developing stages. Combining the scholar's ability to synthesize data with the novelist's gift for storytelling, she allows us to make sense of our own lives by understanding others like us.

New Passages tells us we have the ability to customize our own life cycle. This groundbreaking work is certain to awaken and permanently alter the way we think about ourselves.

Sequel to author's Passages/describes a revolution in middle life--"Second Adulthood" allowing a customized life cycle.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author's previous blockbuster, Passages (LJ 5/15/76), introduced us all to the term "midlife crisis." In this sequel, Sheehy takes us beyond the midlife crisis to examine later life stages, with a short update on young adulthood in the 1990s. In a few ways, this is a better book than its predecessor. Sheehy pays closer attention to the influence of history on the life course of individuals. She also addresses the main criticism that social scientists have made of her work-that large-scale studies have shown no evidence that most people go through the life stages that she describes-by explaining that people should go through these "passages" and that everyone who doesn't is "walking dead." These improvements aside, her prose still sounds like that of a second-rate astrologer, her advice is often contradictory, and her adulation of famous personalities verges on embarrassing. Nevertheless, this is a "critic-proof" book-if you haven't already done so, order multiple copies to satisfy reader demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/95.]-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.
Ilene Cooper
Sheehy's "Passages" (1976), in which she counseled thirtysomethings about the onset of midlife, went straight to the top of most best-seller lists, and her last book, "The Silent Passage" (1992), in which she schlepped women through menopause, did almost as well, despite the fact that females had been navigating the change of life for a millennium or so without Sheehy's help. Rapidly running out of passages, Sheehy now takes the obvious next step: edging her loyal readers, now entrenched in midlife, to the precipice and helping them face their mortality. Arguing that middle life is the "most unrevealed portion of adult life" (not once the Boomers dig in), Sheehy is here to tell you that "the years from 45 to 65 are "not the stagnant, depressing downward slide we have always assumed they would be." Although she intends this book to be a "gift" to her anxious readers, it mostly fails. Before hearing about middle age's upside, we must wend our way through seemingly endless pages about women losing their spouses, men losing their jobs (to say nothing of their hair), and both men and women contracting enough diseases to make even the hardiest souls hurry in for a checkup. There is some good news. Women who make it to 65 can expect to live to 85, and if they've survived divorce or widowhood in midlife, they come to enjoy their own independence. Still, the overriding sense of this book, whether Sheehy admits it or not, is that everybody gets hit, everybody gets hurt. You don't need passage counseling to know that, and if you don't have the inner strength to endure, you might not even get to enjoy those upbeat nuggets Sheehy has gleaned from her surveys. Expect the usual demand; for whatever reason, this passage gambit sells
From Barnes & Noble
Uncovering an historic revolution in the adult life cycle, Sheehy traces radical changes for the generations now in their 20s & 30s & finds baby boomers in their 40s rejecting the whole notion of middle age. Defines second adulthood in mid-life.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Note from the Author ix
Book 1 First Adulthood
Prologue: Oh, Pioneers! 3
Updating the Passages Concept
What to Do With This Leftover Life?
The Discovery Process
New Cross-Cultural Evidence
Part 1 Whatever Happened to the Life Cycle?
I. Mapping Lives Across Time 23
Which Generation Are You Traveling With?
World War II Generation
Silent Generation
Vietnam Generation
Me Generation
Endangered Generation
Welcome to Provisional Adulthood
The Good News
Part 2 The Flourishing Forties
2. The Vietnam Generation Hits Middlescence 57
Who Me, an Adult?
Out of Control
3. Men Redefining Success 67
Rise of the Nonworking Class
The Double Squeeze
The Pharmaceuticals Salesman, Age 48
The Auto Worker, Age 46
A Black Man's Bonus Time, Age 40
A Wunderkind's Handicap, Age 40
The Wunderkind Growing Up, Age 47
The New Midlife Man
4. Out-of-Sight Women 85
A Woman in Early Midlife Crisis
Catch-40 for Couples
Beyond "Me"--to Another Level of Being
5. The Fantasy of Fertility Forever 95
Late Babymania
The Great Postponers
The Psychic Fallout
What Do You Mean, My Eggs Are Too Old?
But Susan Sarandon Did It
The Facts on Infertility
So Glad I Didn't Wait
The Race
6. Perpetual Middlescence 115
Holding the Edge
A Woman Addicted to Success, Age 52
Frozen in Time
Single Men: What Are You Doing from Five to Nine?
Single Women: Tales from the Naked City
Book 2 Second Adulthood
Prologue: A Brand-New Passage 137
Decline or Progress?
From Survival to Mastery
The "Little Death" of First Adulthood
Birth of Second Adulthood
The Meaning Crisis
Time to Kill?
Push Toward Authenticity
Aliveness or Stagnation?
The Time Flies Test
Safety or Danger?
Part 3 Passage to the Age of Mastery
7. The Mortality Crisis 159
Living on the Edge
Little Victories
Composing Your Own Progress Narrative
Peggy's Progress
Guides and Teachings
Part 4 Flaming Fifties: Women
8. Women: Pits to Peak 179
First, the Terror
The Vanity Crisis
The New Female Pacesetters
Working-Class Women: Finding Faith in Yourself
Surprise! You're Not Getting Older, You're Getting Happier!
Women's Historical Progress Across Time
A Survivor Who Found Passion at 50
9. Wonder Women Meets Menopause 199
"I'm Out of Estrogen, and I've Got a Gun"
Phase One: The Perimenopause Panic
Phase Two: Over the Hump
Should I Take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?
The Breast Cancer Phobia
The Weight Gain Fallacy
Phase Three: Postmenopause
Call of the Wild Girl
10. From Pleasing to Mastery 223
On the Privilege of Being 50
Moving Toward Mastery
Finding One's Own Voice
From Anger to Forgiveness
Part 5 Flaming Fifties: Men
II. The Samson Complex 243
The Male Vanity Crisis
The Aging Athlete, Age 57
The Excessed VP, Age 47
The Sociable Athlete, Age 59
Macho Men Holding the Line
But My Body is Bulletproof!
12. Fall Guys of the Economic Revolution 259
Corporate Refugees
The Lifer, Age 53
The Meant-to-be-President, Age 55
Psychic Consequences
Angry and Anxious White Males
The New (Hostile) Dependence on Wives
Reality Testing for the Future
The Rehabilitation of the Corporate Refugee
The Company Man as Free Agent, Age 48
13. The Optimism Surge 274
From Competing to Connecting
Men's Anguish Over Empty Nest
Father, I Hardly Knew Ye
Reinventing Fatherhood
The Start-Over Dad, Age 59
The Medlator, Age 48
14. The Unspeakable Passage: Male Menopause 287
I'd Rather Have a Talking Frog
The Problem Without a Proper Name
Hard Statistics and Hopeful Science
Sex, Lies, and Scorekeeping
Am I Just Getting Old?
The Mind-Body Link
High-Tech Solutions
High-Technique Solution
How to Restore Vitality and Virility
Beyond Male Menopause
15. Men and Women: The New Geometry of the Sexual Diamond 318
A Point of Harmony
Brain-Sex Changes
Take Back Your Diamond!
The Crossover Crisis
Secrets of Serene Potency
Bust-to-Boom Banker, Early Fifties
New-Age Electrician, Age 52
The Save-Your-Life Wife
The Divorce Springboard
Victoria's Real Secret--Sexual Power Surges
Finding Your Passion Without a Man
Part 6 Passage to the Age of Integrity
16. The Serene Sixties 345
Ready for Prime Time
Growing Brain
The Hunger for Harmony
Special Powers of the Sixties
Permission to Play
The Designer Who Learned to Play at 63
Self-Confident Survivors
The Wiley Widow, Age 60
Love Stories of the Sixties
Rekindling Old Flames, Age 77
17. Men: Make My Passage 369
Grand Dads
Retirement: Love it or Leave It?
The Bush Retirement (Non)Plan
The Carters' Retirement Plan
The Winner's Circle
Mr. Hat, the Company Man
Late-Age Entrepreneur
Sources of Well-Being in the Sixties
How Much is Enough?
Old Elephants' Club, Age 65
Comebacks from Hopelessness
The Cancer Survivor
18. Wisewomen in Training 394
Dreamer Beyond Dreams
The Wit Network
A Wisewoman Model, Age 60
Survivor Sex and Extrasexual Passions
Congratulations, You're a New Grandmother!
The New Fly-In Grandmother, Age 56
Nurturing: The Second Wave
Life and Love Beyond Loss
Caretakers of the World
Master of Divinity at 63
Looking Ahead
Expanding the Wit Network
19. Two Species of Aging 417
Choosing How to Age
Renaissance in the Art of Health
Sharpening up for the Sage Seventies and Beyond
Celebratory Centenarians
The Present Never Ages
Acknowledgments 430
Appendixes 433
I. Life History Survey
II. Professional Women's and Men's Surveys
III. Family Circle Survey
IV. New Woman Survey
V. Suggested Readings on Menopause
Notes 451
Index 475
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2012

    I'm not alone in this.

    The best part of Gail's book is the presentation of her extensive research that lets us breathe a sigh of relief. We are not alone in our journey to evolve into our best self. Someone said, Change is the only constant. Gail shows us how we are doing that, even against our will. Terrific info, good read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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