Criticism of the understanding of maturity as a "mental fossil".

Fossilization is a form of psychological defense in which feelings have practically no external manifestation.

Indeed, you will not approach a man with a stone face. When a person is fossilized, it is difficult to offend, but it is also impossible to caress. For a while, this protects, but the need for a warm relationship is not satisfied. A sense of loneliness develops, and neurotic breakdowns or psychosomatic illnesses appear. “Close people” are doctors. Fossils are brought up most intensively in our country. From early childhood, the child is taught to restrain his feelings, to control himself. I want to almost kill my offender, but I can’t. From impotent anger, fists are clenched so tightly that the nails dig into the palms. And a man does not kill another, but himself. If this continues long enough, unreacted anger leads to stomach ulcers, to hypertension.

The fossil is formed gradually. At first, a person realizes that he is holding himself back, then he gets used to it and no longer feels that he does not give vent to his emotions. However, muscle effort is expended and, consequently, energy is expended. The fossil is manifested by matching face masks. For example, if anger is repressed and restrained, a person purses his lips, draws his eyebrows, puffs out the wings of his nose. Gradually, tension ceases to be felt and realized as anger, but such an individual has a constantly displeased expression on his face. Each feeling repressed into unconsciousness has its own muscle clamps and a characteristic mask of the face, by which we recognize a coward, an anxious person, a fool, etc.

Stooping and other defects in posture and characteristic postures also allow us to judge what feelings are restrained with the help of a fossil. A characteristic muscular shell is formed (Reich, Lowen).

Reich considered treatment as the opening of a muscular shell, consisting of seven protective segments in the eyes, mouth, neck, chest, diaphragm, abdomen and pelvis. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that these segments almost coincide with the chakras of Indian yoga. When a person in such a shell begins to move, he has to overcome the background muscle tension that he is unconscious of. At the same time, movements lose their smoothness, a characteristic facial expression, posture and gestures appear, which can be easily parodied. A. Pie (1994) believes that such a posture, facial expressions and movements can be used to judge the feelings and intentions of a person.

If fossilization continues for a long time, there is a hardening of character. The spontaneity is completely lost. The individual ceases to satisfy his needs, but fulfills the requirements of his character. Psychological flexibility disappears, a person can exist only in such conditions when the requirements of the character at the same time fully correspond to the requirements of the environment and the needs of the body. The slightest change in the situation makes a person completely compensated. It seems to turn into an insect that dies as soon as the living conditions change.

A. Adler (1995) describes such forms of protection as compensation and hypercompensation.


5. Maturity as the most socially active and productive period of life.

Maturity refers to the period from 40 to 60 years. This is the time when a person reaches the peak of his professional and personal development. During this period, usually the psychological development of a person is “conserved” and remains at a stable level. The period of maturity is usually divided into two independent periods: early (40 – 49 years) and late maturity (49 – 60 years).

Early adulthood is characterized by a “mid-life crisis”. During this period there is:

  • summing up the first results of life (a person’s thought begins to concentrate less and less on the future and more on the present and the past);
  • rethinking lived experience;
  • awareness of the limitations of their capabilities, incl. – time and health. And as a consequence:
  • adjustment of life plans. The depth of the crisis of a given age often depends on whether a person’s ideal idea of life coincides with reality.

The period of early maturity is also characterized by a slight decrease in self-esteem and a new psychological perception of age.

Late maturity (49 – 60 years) – the time of maximum disclosure of the inner potential of a person. This period is characterized by:

  • final disposal of complexes;
  • adequate and complete awareness of their interests, priorities, their place in life;
  • the desire to fully realize themselves and feel the world around them.

The concepts of “adulthood” and “maturity” are not identical. Maturity is the most socially active and productive period of life; this is the period of adulthood, when the tendency to achieve the highest level of development of the intellect and personality can be realized. The ancient Greeks called this age and state of mind “acme”, which means “peak”, the highest step, the flowering time.
In the theory of E. Erickson, maturity is the age of “committing deeds”, the most complete flowering, when a person becomes identical to himself. The main lines of development of a middle-aged person are generativity, productivity, creativity (in relation to things, children and ideas) and restlessness – the desire to become the best possible parent, to achieve a high level in one’s profession, to be an indifferent citizen, a true friend, a support for loved ones.
Work and care are the virtues of mature people. If a person turns out to be “calmed down” in any respect, then stagnation and degradation begin, which manifest themselves in infantilism and self-absorption – in excessive self-pity, in indulgence of one’s whims. Successfully resolving the conflict between restlessness and stagnation in an attitude to overcome problems and difficulties, and not in endless complaining about them.
In humanistic psychology (A. Maslow, G. Allport, K. Rogers and others), central importance was attached to the process of self-realization, self-actualization of an adult.
According to A. Maslow, self-actualizing people are not limited to the satisfaction of elementary (deficient) needs, but are committed to the highest, ultimate, existential values, including truth, beauty, goodness. They strive to achieve heights (or possibly a higher level) in their business. Based on the analysis of the biographies of a number of self-actualizing personalities (mature, intelligent), Maslow discovered their inherent qualities: a more effective perception of reality and a more comfortable relationship with it; acceptance of self, others and nature; spontaneity; focus on the problem; detachment (as a need for solitude and self-sufficiency); independence from culture and environment; constant freshness of estimates; social feeling; deep but selective social relationships; democratic character; moral conviction; non-hostile sense of humor; creativity. In order to improve, to advance in the direction of self-actualization, one must remember first of all that this is an ongoing process that requires hard work on oneself:
– it is necessary to strive to selflessly surrender to experiences, revealing one’s human essence instead of demonstrating a pose, mask, psychological protection;
– at every moment of life, make a choice that leads to personal growth, through overcoming fear and striving for security;
– listen to your inner voice, give yourself the opportunity to manifest your self, starting with the simplest things (like trusting your own taste when evaluating food or drink);
– be honest with yourself and take responsibility; not to be afraid of not being liked by other people; – it is necessary to overcome illusions, to identify and abandon (no matter how painful it is) psychological defenses, to understand one’s potentialities and desires.
Addressing psychology students, A. Maslow warned them about the perniciousness of the Jonah complex, which is “fear of one’s own greatness”, “evasion from one’s destiny”, “escape from one’s talents”: “You should strive to become first-class psychologists, at your best meaning of the word, better than you can imagine.”
G. Allport believed that the maturity of a personality is determined by the degree of functional autonomy of its motivation. An adult individual is healthy and productive if he has surpassed early (childish) forms of motivation and acts quite consciously. Allport, having analyzed the work of many psychologists, presented a description of a self-fulfilling personality in the form of the following list of features:
1) interest in the outside world, a greatly expanded sense of self;
2) warmth (compassion, respect, tolerance) in relation to others;
3) a sense of fundamental emotional security (self-acceptance, self-control);
4) realistic perception of reality and activity in actions;
5) self-objectification (self-understanding), bringing one’s inner experience into the actual situation and a sense of humor;
6) “philosophy of life”, which streamlines, systematizes experience and gives meaning to individual actions.
Human development must be encouraged from childhood to the end of life.
B.G. Ananiev in his book “Man as an Object of Knowledge” (1969) emphasized that the psychology of middle age is a relatively new branch of developmental psychology. The psychology of maturity found itself on the periphery of psychological knowledge. On the one hand, it is pushed aside by the approaches of genetic psychology, for which maturity acts only as a product and a kind of finale of a person’s individual mental development. On the other hand, gerontology analyzes maturity as a period in which the origins of aging processes are concentrated. Nevertheless, data from the history of the study of adulthood made it possible to identify obvious ontogenetic shifts that have occurred over the past century: the acceleration of maturation processes and the deceleration of aging processes, especially in the field of intellect and personality of a modern person, which has led to an expansion of the range of maturity – in terms of its duration and potential. The period of adulthood, the main stage of human life, deserves to be clearly formulated its own social and psychological tasks of development of this particular period.
IN AND. Slobodchikov and G.A. Zuckerman believe that the essence of the first stage of adulthood (17-42 years old) is the individualization of the system of social values and ideals, according to the personal position of a person who becomes the subject of public (not narrowly social) relations. The formula of subjectness, according to the authors of the integral periodization of mental development, can be the words of Martin Luther: “I stand on this and cannot do otherwise.”
The final stage (after 39 years and beyond) – universalization – is considered as a potential opportunity to achieve the highest level of spiritual development, to enter the space of universal and superhuman, existential values.

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