Growing Old: a Psychological Interpretation of "About Schmidt"

Topics: Grief, Death, Kübler-Ross model Pages: 3 (862 words) Published: July 27, 2011
By Alexandra Edwards
In About Schimdt, Warren Schmidt is a retired insurance salesman, who at age 66 has no particular plans other than to drive around in the motor home his wife insisted they buy. He's not altogether bitter, but not happy either, as everything his wife does annoys him, and he disapproves of the man his daughter is about to marry. When his wife suddenly dies, he sets out to postpone the imminent marriage of his daughter to a man he doesn't like, while coping with discoveries about his late wife and himself in the process.

The final stage of Erikson's theory is later adulthood (age 60 years and older). The crisis represented by this last life stage is integrity versus despair. Erikson proposes that this stage begins when the individual experiences a sense of mortality. This may be in response to retirement, the death of a spouse or close friends, or may simply result from changing social roles. No matter what the cause, this sense of mortality precipitates the final life crisis. The final life crisis manifests itself as a review of the individual1s life-career as shown in About Schmidt when Warren says “I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?”. Similar to Warrens life review, individuals review their life-career to determine if it was a success or failure. According to Erikson, this reminiscence or introspection is most productive when experienced with significant others which Warren did not have after his wife passed.

The outcome of this life-career reminiscence can be either positive or negative. Ego integrity is the result of the positive resolution of the final life crisis. Ego integrity is viewed as the key to harmonious personality development; the individual views their whole of life with satisfaction and contentment. The ego quality that emerges from a...
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