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Finding Meaning In The Second Half Of Life: How...


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Many people at midlife experience a great upheaval, discontent, depression, and a feeling that reality has not measured up to their expectations. When this crisis begins, some run as fast as they can from any further self-examination and settle for a new car or an affair with someone younger. For others, the second half of life offers a fresh search for meaning, a grappling with the soul, and a new start. These courageous souls are willing to step into the dark and leave the confines of what has always been sacred to them: comfort, security, their own lively fears, and the opinions of others. Such is the scenario painted by James Hollis, a Jungian analyst in private practice and executive director of the C. G. Jung Educational Center of Houston, Texas.


Those who retreat from the challenges of spiritual maturity in the second half of life have succumbed to feelings of overwhelmment and insufficiency. Hollis sees the first half of life as being driven by acquisition and the second half by relinquishment. This is expressed in the movie About Schmidt where a man retires, his wife dies, and he is forced to shed his old ways of thinking and acting as he hits the road in his mobile home. His one meaningful connection is with an orphan he supports in Africa.


Will the second half of life be free of troubles Certainly not. But if we are able to reframe things, we will be able to handle whatever comes our way. One of the best rewards of this time is that when the soul asks us to live a larger life, we can respond with a heart-felt and jubilant "Yes!"


Jungian psychoanalyst James Hollis believes that it is only in the second half of life that we can truly come to know who we are and thus create a life that has meaning. In Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, Hollis explores the ways we can grow and evolve to fully become ourselves when the traditional roles of adulthood aren't quite working for us. Offering wisdom to anyone facing a career that no longer seems fulfilling, a long-term relationship that has shifted, or family transitions that raise issues of aging and mortality, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life provides a reassuring message and a crucial bridge across this critical passage of adult development.


The average life expectancy is currently 70-80 years old. Thus, the first half of life is roughly 35-40 years. However, due to life experiences, people may move to the second phase earlier or later than the midpoint.


The midlife crisis is familiar enough, but as in previous works, Hollis (The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning at Midlife), brings a Jungian perspective to it that goes deeper than the idea of finding mere self-fulfillment. That feeling that you've been living the wrong life, that you're lost and confused, is "an insurgency of the soul," he says poetically, which "overthrows the conscious conduct of our lives." This mental suffering presents an opportunity to embark on a journey transcending expectations foisted on us by others, such as parents, and to find true self-knowledge. Hollis offers not a simple how-to on facing this crisis, but rather a deep Jungian exploration of individuation, the process of becoming the person one was meant to be. Sprinkling his discussion with references to prose, drama, poetry and popular culture as well as examples from patient histories, Hollis recommends working toward a mature spirituality by being true to personal experience and embracing the mystery of life. This spirituality is a reconnection to the voice of the soul, dramatized by images that appear to us in dreams. Hollis is humane and compassionate regarding the human condition, and his focus on the underlying meaning of life will resonate for many, though they may not respond to his somewhat mystical, god-laden language. (May 1)


Dr. Brad Reedy, recently back from vacation, speaks of lessons learned during his time off, through the lens of the works of Dr. James Hollis, a Jungian psychoanalyst. One of D




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