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The Stage of Middle Adulthood in the Development Essay

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2022

An individual’s development has several stages, and this process is lifelong. One of the stages in the lifespan development is middle adulthood that is associated with the period between 40-45 and 60-65 years. The subject (N) selected for the developmental analysis is a 49-year-old male who is married, has no children, and performs the role of the head of the family. He currently teaches airframe and power plant studies at a local community college.

N spent much of his life in Pittsburgh, PA, living in the Italian community, where he developed his morale and beliefs. N’s lifestyle can be described as sedentary, and he suffers from obesity, the heart disease, and hypertension. Still, it is important to note that N does not consume alcohol or smoke. In this paper, the specifics of the subject’s development at the stage of middle adulthood will be described with reference to existing theories, and possible unmet developmental tasks will be discussed along with the approaches to address them.

Summary of Middle Adulthood

Middle adulthood (40-45 to 60-65 years) is associated with the period when individuals go further in their maturity, and the signs of aging become obvious. However, during this period, people usually have stable family and interpersonal relationships, developed careers, demonstrate effective performance and productivity (Lally & Valentine-French, 2017). Noticeable physical changes are typical of this period, and in a social sphere, the focus can shift from work and relationships with friends to family and parenthood.

When analyzing the characteristics of this period with reference to researchers’ and theorists’ views, it is important to note that only some of them mentioned middle adulthood in their models. Erik Erikson developed the psychosocial theory, according to which each stage of a person’s development is associated with a certain crisis.

The effective resolution of each crisis is important for a successful movement to the following stage. In Erikson’s model, middle adulthood is related to the crisis of generativity versus stagnation, and a positive resolution is observed when an individual becomes interested in helping younger generations to develop (Dunkel & Harbke, 2017). Other researchers, such as Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget, were mostly interested in studying the development of children, and according to their views, adulthood is associated with developing abstract thinking, moral values, and maturity (Lally & Valentine-French, 2017).

The complete theory of adult development was proposed by Daniel Levinson, who linked adulthood to tolerance, sensitivity, balancing privacy and friendship (Perera-Diltz et al., 2016). All these theories provide the background for understanding middle adulthood.

Comparison of the Subject’s Development to Norms

For this analysis, it is important to compare N’s physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development to stated norms. Referring to physical development, it is possible to claim that N’s addresses related milestones and has typical health problems. Thus, the subject has developed the loss of hair and male-pattern baldness. Still, there are no wrinkles typical of adults’ dry skin, and there is no muscle loss (sarcopenia) because of a person’s age.

It is rather problematic to conclude regarding changes in the eyesight because N had Lasik. Noticed hearing issues are associated with the experience in the military. N’s health concerns are typical of his age as he is diagnosed with the heart disease and hypertension, as well as high cholesterol levels and obesity because of a poor diet. These changes are most common in adults at this stage (Lally & Valentine-French, 2017). N’s brain function is highly developed, and this aspect is also compared to norms.

N’s cognitive development is within the stated standards: cognitive functioning is remarkable as N teaches at college, he is focused on positive thinking, and the state of flow is also characteristic for him. Furthermore, he has developed expertise as a professional and received intellectual satisfaction from his work (Lally & Valentine-French, 2017).

The subject’s psychosocial development corresponds to norms in most cases as the man has positive relationships with his wife, pays attention to balancing work and life, and contributes to personal stability and social interactions visiting the church.

Comparing the subject’s development to Erikson’s crisis of generativity versus stagnation, it is possible to state that N has successfully coped with this stage with the help of his work. During this period, people are interested in leaving a legacy and educating children (Dunkel & Harbke, 2017).

Although N has no children, he realizes his potential working with a younger generation in an educational institution. According to Levinson, during this period, adults face a midlife crisis (Perera-Diltz et al., 2016), but N seems to successfully overcome it because of having clear goals for the future, balancing career and life, and contributing to the community as a professional. N knows how to handle stress and applies effective coping strategies. The problem of the empty nest is also not typical of the subject because he has no children. Instead, N has positive and loving relationships with his wife and close friends.

Unmet Developmental Tasks

Erikson focused on such psychosocial task related to middle adulthood as the achievement of generativity. It is possible to state that the subject has achieved this task through providing his knowledge to the future generations teaching his students. Referring to the aspect of guiding one’s children, this task is partially unmet, but N and his wife do not regard the absence of children as a problem.

In this context, all the challenges and tasks associated with the empty nest syndrome, dealing with boomerang children, and becoming grandparents are not typical of this case, and these tasks remain unmet (Dunkel & Harbke, 2017; Lally & Valentine-French, 2017). The tasks that require N’s attention include coping with stress caused by losing parents and caring for spouses.

Assistance in Achieving the Tasks

If N loses his job or becomes retired, there is a risk of developing a crisis associated with the impossibility to guide the next generation (students) anymore. Furthermore, there is also a risk of worsening coping capabilities of N when facing the necessity of caring for a spouse or parents. To assist the subject in coping with these situations, it is necessary to focus on developing his activities in the community and relationships with friends (Dunkel & Harbke, 2017; Lally & Valentine-French, 2017). It is important to ensure that N will play an important role in the community life as long as it is possible, receiving support of its members.


The analysis of the stage of middle adulthood in the development of the selected subject indicates that this person has successfully achieved the key milestones. The specifics of N’s physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development are in line with the norms and theories in the field. However, the absence of children in N’s family does not allow for concluding strictly regarding met and unmet tasks of the middle adulthood period.


Dunkel, C. S., & Harbke, C. (2017). A review of measures of Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development: Evidence for a general factor. Journal of Adult Development, 24(1), 58-76.

Lally, M., & Valentine-French, S. (2017). . Web.

Perera-Diltz, D. M., Intagliata, A. J., & Laux, J. M. (2016). Middle adulthood: Emotional and social development. In D. Capuzzi & M. D. Stauffer (Eds.), Human growth and development across the lifespan: Applications for counselors (p. 475–505). John Wiley & Sons Inc.

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