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Only two species of mammal have an extensive, post-reproductive life: killer whales – whose elders can sniff out food for their pods – and Homo sapiens. While the rationale behind the whale’s longevity seems clear, what is the point of ours?
This question intrigued Carl Jung who observed that if a culture is to thrive, it must find a balance between the energy of the young and the experience of the old. But to obtain this equilibrium, we need to pass through the dreaded middle years.
Examining the Jungian concept of the midlife crisis, and the lives of prominent figures who endured it (including Abraham Lincoln and Marie Curie), psychoanalyst Andrew Jamieson shows how there is an evolutionary purpose behind this rite of passage which – once traversed – holds the key to our prosperity.