Essay on Mid-Life Crisis: Fact or Myth

Sample Essay

Words 1,501

Is there really something called “a midlife crisis” a crisis that many 40-somethings are designed to experience? Or is it all just hype and merely a myth? In using the film American Beauty (1999) I will attempt to assess Lester Burnham’s midlife crisis, the principal character played by Kevin Spacey, to some of Daniel J. Levinson’s theories of adult development. Does Lester’s so-called midlife crisis follow Levinson’s transitions and sequences of midlife? Or is Lester Burnham’s experience merely an adjustment distress, as described in the DSM-IV-TR of the American Psychiatric Association (2000 p. 28):

The adjustment disorder, unspecified type (DSM-IV-TR 2000):

  1. The development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to identifiable stressors occurring within three months of the onset of the stressor.
  2. These symptoms or behaviors are clinically significant as enhanced by either of the following:
  3. Managed distress that is in excess of what would be expected from exposure to the stressor.
  4. Significant impairment in social or occupational (academic) functioning.
  5. The stress-related disturbance does not meet the criteria for another specific Axis I Disorder and is not merely an exacerbation of a preexisting Axis I or Axis II disorder.

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