When does the old age crisis occur and how does it manifest itself?

Age-related crises represent natural changes in the human psyche depending on the stage of development. They manifest themselves in changes in worldview, the nature of the reaction to familiar things and the basic line of behavior.

At each age, a person performs certain social roles and tasks. With age they also change, which can cause a crisis.

L. Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist who studied the cognitive development of a child, defined a crisis as a turning point in the normal course of mental development, when changes in the personality structure accumulate, age-related neoplasms appear and lead to sharp shifts in development.

L. Vygotsky called a new formation a qualitatively new type of personality and human interaction with reality, which was absent as a whole at the previous stages of its development. At each age stage, he identified a central neoplasm, which characterizes the restructuring of a person’s entire personality on a new basis, and private neoplasms related to individual aspects of the personality.

Also, a person’s needs and motivations change, which shape their behavior.

According to L. Vygotsky, it is possible to determine the signs of “normal childhood development” and stable stages. Normal development begins at the time of birth and ends at age 17.

Any transition period is accompanied by a stress reaction of the body, against the background of which increased personal irritability develops from misunderstanding and lack of adaptation. This is considered normal. But if the social environment exerts pressure and does not contribute to a smooth passage of the transition stage, then the crisis may drag on or transform into more serious conditions.

Newborn crisis

Physiology. The child has adapted to existence outside the mother's womb. The body is accustomed to breathing on its own, regulating body temperature, receiving and digesting food. Regular sleep and nutrition allow you to feel confident in new circumstances.

Psychology. The quality of a newborn’s psychological adaptation depends on the parents. The child does not yet master the means of communication, but needs help, so maternal intuition plays an important role.

What to do? Learn to understand the child’s body language, gestures and facial expressions. To express your care and support, pick him up, hug him, and breastfeed him as often as possible.

The neonatal crisis ends with a period of recovery. The child gets comfortable, recognizes loved ones, smiles when he sees them.

What makes it difficult to cope with the crisis?

One of the most likely complications is a person’s desire to move away from the crisis altogether “to the side” or “back”. By going “to the side” we mean masking unfinished internal work with various external changes. In this case, a person can change his image, place of service, occupation, country of residence, marital status (get divorced, remarry or have children). Options for going “aside” are sometimes workaholism or alcoholism, which allow a person not to think about what is happening to him.

Going “back” can be considered the infantilization of a person, which is expressed in the external verbal or non-verbal assertion of one’s younger status, or in emphasizing one’s weak position through illness.

An option to “escape” a crisis is to project it onto others. A person shifts responsibility for his emotional distress to loved ones, colleagues, government leaders, etc. The projection of a crisis onto the environment deprives a person of the opportunity to fully complete this stage, and therefore often leads to “getting stuck” in it. Such a person is in a long-term subdepressive state, his quality of life is reduced.

It is clear that the difficulties of living through the current crisis may be due to the fact that the previous ones were not overcome. In this case, a person, having no experience of successfully completing a crisis, is faced with the problems of not only his current normative crisis, but also all previous ones. In the most severe case, a person, in the face of old age, is forced to resolve issues throughout almost his entire adult life.

Crisis of the first year of life

Physiology. The main factors of the early childhood crisis are learning to walk and talk, the beginning of independent knowledge of the world. Even if a child communicates in “his own” language, scientists regard it as autonomous child speech.

Psychology. The child begins to understand that the main person in his life - his mother - does not belong to him entirely, she has her own life and interests. He begins to fear that he will be abandoned or lost. The child seeks increased attention, often follows on the heels and calls his mother. At the same time, he compares himself with others and tries to defend strong-willed decisions, contrast them with existing family rules, and protest.

What to do? Fighting with a child is not only useless, but also unacceptable, since during a crisis he needs parental love and support - physical and emotional - even more. Give him a certain freedom, while controlling its scope - stimulate and slow down from time to time, depending on the situation.

When does the old age crisis occur and how does it manifest itself?

At different periods of life, a person goes through age-related crises, the most famous and widely discussed of which is adolescence. Nevertheless, there are several stages in a person’s life during which a reassessment of values ​​occurs. Thus, the crisis of old age occurs during the transition from maturity to retirement age. It can last for several years, and although it does not manifest itself as clearly as teenage, it is quite comparable in its strength. Ninel Kuznetsova, a medical psychologist and head of the department of social and medical assistance at Boarding House for Labor Veterans No. 6, tells how to help a loved one overcome this critical period of life.

Old age begins at 60 years of age and lasts until death, passing through several stages of development during this time. Psychologists distinguish between early (60-75 years), middle (75-90 years), extreme old age or longevity - after 90 years.

“A crisis is a period of change, when old models of behavior no longer work, it is necessary to develop new ones, but taking into account changed values ​​and goals, a new perception of oneself and one’s capabilities. Many older people have a hard time going through this period because they already see the outcome of their lives, understand that much cannot be changed, and feel a lack of resources for new beginnings. In addition, as a rule, health deteriorates at this time,” says Ninel Kuznetsova.

The onset of a crisis is first of all noticed by relatives and friends, recording changes in the behavior of the elderly person. The most common signs are isolation, apathy or laziness, dissatisfaction or resentment, anger or irritability towards society or a specific person.

You should pay particular attention to the following symptoms:

  • a person begins to react and speak more slowly, experiences difficulty concentrating, coordination of movements worsens, and perception narrows;
  • an elderly person does not remember new data well, but remembers events 20-30 years ago well;
  • an elderly person becomes more and more immersed in his thoughts, becomes touchy and vulnerable;
  • there is a high need for communication, turning into importunity;
  • emotional instability, intolerance towards loved ones, and confidential communication with strangers appears;
  • Passivity or lack of initiative appears.

“The transition from middle age to old age is not so critical; often at this time people still work, have a stable income, social connections are preserved, and health can be maintained at a decent level. The transition to so-called middle old age, which occurs after 75 years, is much more serious; this period is also called critical old age. At this time, a person begins to realize the inevitability of death, and not only psychological comfort, but also life expectancy depends on how he experiences this crisis,” says a medical psychologist.

If the main life goals are achieved, life experience is viewed as positive, there is an acceptance of one’s position and personal responsibility for everything that happens, the crisis will bring positive results. A person will feel his integrity with culture and era, engage in self-development, hobbies, and build new relationships with grown children and grandchildren, and close circle.

Anyone who sees their life as a chain of missed opportunities and annoying mistakes realizes that it is too late to start all over again and that what has been lost cannot be returned. Such a person is overcome by fear, despair and hopelessness.

“Aging is an inevitable process, and each of us has to go through such a crisis. You need to learn now to love yourself, accept your shortcomings and strengths, and find what you love. It is necessary to continue to develop, attend cultural events, read books, and maintain an active position. This is the only way we can worthily cross the next line of our life’s journey,” Ninel Kuznetsova is convinced.

The support of family and friends, self-realization in hobbies and hobbies, a wide circle of friends, and careful attention to your physical health will help you overcome the crisis. Eight club spaces “My Social Center”, in which 322 clubs operate (more than 3.5 thousand activities were held), can help with this. Currently, members of 134 clubs hold online meetings and open webinars in various areas.

In addition, the Moscow Longevity project is being implemented in the capital, which in two years has turned into an entire social movement of successful, optimistic and active people. Now “Moscow Longevity” continues to work in an online format. For the older generation of Muscovites, classes are held in 30 different areas. Already about 50 thousand project participants have joined the new remote format using modern communication platforms.

Press service of the Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of Moscow

Crisis 3 years

Physiology. At the age of 3, the first hormonal changes in the body occur. The nuclei of the diencephalon and pituitary gland are activated, this contributes to intensive cognitive processes.

Psychology. The crisis of 3 years is one of the most acute. The child is difficult to control, his behavior is practically impossible to correct. His most popular words are “I don’t want” and “I won’t.” You say it’s time to go home, he runs away. You ask him to put the toys away - he scatters them. Your refusal to satisfy some request causes a demonstrative protest - the child screams, stomps his feet, and may swing and hit. Don't be afraid, this is a form of normal growing up: the child begins to feel like an individual, but expresses independence through the means available to him.

What to do? Do not try to demonstrate strength and power - this can reinforce negative behavior and character traits. Find the strength to be patient, sometimes the child himself wants to stop behaving badly, but does not yet know how to do this. You can help him, for example, redirect his attention. Also try to identify the objective reasons for this behavior, maybe your family has too strict rules or the child is offended by other children.

At the same time, set clear boundaries about what not to do, and do not deviate from this - otherwise the child will begin to manipulate you. During hysterics, leave him alone with himself - without “spectators” the whims pass faster.

With the correct behavior of adults, the crisis of 3-year-olds passes in a year and a half.

Allow yourself to experience a crisis, to be alone with yourself, your feelings and thoughts

A crisis state is always perceived as a nuisance, which is best to get rid of as soon as possible. This is why many people do not fully experience the crisis: most negative experiences are “thrown overboard” by consciousness or denied.

In order to turn a difficult situation to your advantage and turn a crisis into an experience, you need, first of all, awareness. It is very important to understand the circumstances that preceded and contributed to the crisis and to understand one’s own feelings associated with the crisis situation. Once you recognize the problem, you have a chance to correct it and change your life for the better.

Crisis 7 years

Physiology. The 7-year crisis is associated with a period of intense physical growth, the development of fine motor skills of the hands and complex neuropsychic functions.

Psychology. Against the background of physical changes, the social status of the child changes - he becomes a schoolchild. For some children, the need to get used to a new environment and demands provokes neuroses. The child becomes anxious, but hides his emotions, his appetite decreases, and nausea and vomiting are possible in the morning. He may not want to go to class, answer the teacher’s questions, argue with his parents, snap back, or imitate his elders. At this age, leaving home for the first time is possible: more often for boys from strict families.

What to do? Problems more often arise in children who are physically or psychologically behind their peers in some way, so do not rush to send your child to school, at least without consulting a pediatrician. Do not overload your first-grader with additional sections; let him adapt to school. Do not place high demands on your studies and ensure a calm environment at home.

Do not punish for failures and bad grades - this will discourage you from learning. Give your child more independence and responsibility. If something doesn't work out for him, support his faith in himself.

Teenagers - transition to adulthood

The first more or less “adult” crisis is considered to be the teenage one. Erik Erikson, the author of the ego theory of personality, calls the age of 12-18 years the most vulnerable to stressful situations and the occurrence of crisis conditions [3]. Boys and girls are faced with a choice - profession, identification of themselves in some social group.

A typical example from history is various informal movements (hippies, punks, goths and many others), the fashion for which changes periodically, but some part remains constant, or interest groups (various sports, music).

The teenage crisis is a period accompanied by excessive care and control on the part of parents. And also prohibitions, quarrels arising from attempts to circumvent them, and much more. All this prevents the child from getting to know himself and identifying the characteristics that are unique to him - as an individual.

During this period, the risk of drug and alcohol consumption increases - for teenagers this is not only a way to become “one of the people” in the company, but also to relieve constant emotional stress. After all, due to hormonal “swings” and other physiological changes in the body, young people constantly experience overwhelming emotions when their mood changes a hundred times a day.

It is during this period that thoughts about the future also come, which expose boys and girls to additional stress. Who do I want to become and what do I want to do as an adult? How to find your place in the sun? The school system, unfortunately, does not really help to find answers to these questions, but only aggravates the crisis of choice, since it sets certain deadlines for the process.

Among foreign experiences, the examples of teenagers in South Korea and the USA are interesting. True, in the first country they are rather unoptimistic. There it is believed that only graduates of just a few of the most prestigious universities have good job prospects. Therefore, it is quite common for teenagers to drive themselves to exhaustion and nervous breakdowns (and often to suicide) due to the upcoming graduation and preparation for courses. This problem forced doctors to sound the alarm and raise the issue at the state level.

But among American teenagers and their parents, a more sensible approach is common - at this age it is normal not to know what exactly you want. That’s why many teenagers, after graduating from school, take a year off to think (the so-called gap year) - to travel, work, gain new experience and make the right decision for themselves without outside pressure.

In the post-Soviet space, there are still frequent cases when parents themselves determine which university and what specialty their child will enroll in.

The outcome is not difficult to predict - the imposed profession may not be the one the applicant dreamed of. There may be a lot of further scenarios, but for a teenager, most of them will not help him spend his student years profitably and gain self-determination.

In the United States, they have compiled a list of the most popular crisis reasons why teenagers drop out of school: alcohol and drug addiction, pregnancy, loss of interest in school, financial difficulties, bullying by peers, sexual harassment, mental disorders, problems/cruelty in the family.

A teenager's acceptance of his appearance is also associated with a crisis of self-identification. For girls, this moment can become especially acute - comparing oneself with idols, models from glossy magazines is depressing and can cause eating disorders. Unfortunately, the most common patients in specialized departments for anorexics are young girls.

That’s why it’s so important for a teenager to feel the support of his family, which is ready to accept his choice, when he’s growing up. Just as in childhood, it is not recommended to harshly cut off a child’s desire for independence. The main advice from psychologists to parents comes down to one simple maxim - remember yourself when you were a teenager, your dreams and aspirations, conflicts with adults, and put yourself in the place of a child.

By the way, the teenage crisis still stands on the line between children's crises, which are more or less regulated by age, and adults, who are tied not to a certain time, but to the process of choice.

Childhood crises mean the collapse of a system that previously existed in the child’s mind, and adults imply the independent construction of this very system by a certain individual. The first serious choice for a teenager (university, profession) is the very symbol of the transition to adulthood.

Teenage crisis

Physiology. At 11-15 years of age, accelerated physical growth and puberty are observed.

Psychology. Against this background, psychological changes occur: increased sensitivity, excitability, mood instability, incontinence, and possible aggressiveness. The desire for independence from adults and self-affirmation provokes rash actions: smoking, alcohol, early sexual intercourse, drugs. Teenagers gravitate toward grouping and spending time with peers. They are selfish and indifferent to others, while they really need the attention and care of adults.

What to do? A teenager should be treated as an adult, capable of making decisions and being responsible for their actions. There is no need to impose your opinion on him; try to lead him to adequate independent decisions. If your teenager's behavior worries you, consult a psychologist.

Age crises are natural. Their course depends on the child’s personality: it can be acute and painful or mild and almost unnoticeable. With the correct behavior of adults, the child overcomes age-related crises, and a calm, friendly atmosphere is maintained at home.

What are the features of age-related crises of maturity?

Their occurrence and course depend on how a person relates to the passage of time and how expressed his fear of the future is. The future is disturbing, and its image is often negative; the past, on the contrary, is emotionally charged and is seen more positively. Fear of the future causes denial of one's age. A person wants to be younger, and as a result, there is a desire to appear younger. Therefore, changes in appearance indicating age are perceived very painfully.

People don't always understand that they are afraid of the future. They project their fears onto other aspects of life - family or professional. They are the ones that cause dissatisfaction; it is about them that a person complains to others or to a psychologist.

The basis of fear of the future is the awareness of the finitude of one’s own existence and the fear of death, that is, the reason is individual and personal.

However, social factors—stereotypes and values ​​of modern culture—play an equally important role in generating fear of the future. The most important of them is the stereotype of negative perception of old age. This means that old people are traditionally attributed such characteristics as grouchiness, conservatism, and criticism of young people. Old age is associated with visits to clinics, poor health, loneliness and lack of joy in life. And the question of development and self-improvement in old age seems strange, to say the least.

Fear of one's own old age can be present even in very young people. The phrase “happiness in old age” evokes an ironic smile among students, and “sex life in old age” evokes Homeric laughter. What is the reason for the stereotypical perception of old age as a period of personality degradation?

According to L.I. Antsyferova, the idea of ​​old age is strongly influenced by prevailing social relations. In developed countries with pronounced competitive relations, such “youth” qualities as energy, endurance, athleticism, and pronounced ambition are highly valued. In recent decades, the “cult of youth” has spread widely in Russia.

However, the very emergence of such stereotypes seems to us to be a secondary phenomenon, arising due to the fact that the period of old age is the “youngest” in the process of cultural and historical development of mankind. Indeed, ancient people almost did not know old age. There was simply no place left for those who, due to physical weakness, could not be a full-fledged hunter and get food. According to historians and ethnographers, the first old people appeared with the beginning of the use of fire, they received the status of its guardians. But nevertheless, life expectancy remained quite short.

The emergence of old people as a quantitatively significant group of the population is usually attributed only to the last centuries. It was at this time that old age began to be studied deeply and extensively, but the results of such studies often do not reach everyday psychology. Therefore, the source of the formation of ideas about old age is not scientific research, but the experience of close relatives living this age period. The media also play an important role in this, usually “drawing” the image of an unhappy elderly person experiencing financial and everyday difficulties. Recently, another factor has emerged that shapes the idea of ​​old age - advertising. On the one hand, it itself relies on the presence of a negative stereotype, and on the other, it reinforces it.

In addition to the dominant image of old age in society, the emergence of age-related crises is influenced by the value system adopted in modern society, which contrasts a person’s own importance with material well-being and social status.

Modern culture denies death in all its manifestations, which causes a latent fear of death in most people and gives rise to the cult of eternal youth.

In addition, modern culture is increasingly shifting from socialization to individualization. If earlier society, through a system of rituals and customs, helped a person determine what his social and cultural role is, now a person is forced to solve these issues on his own. It is difficult to call this phenomenon positive or negative, but it exists, and we have to take it into account.

Social factors not only influence the occurrence of age-related crises of maturity, but also affect their passage, sometimes significantly complicating or, on the contrary, facilitating this process.

Here it is worth noting the specifics of the emotional sphere of modern man. According to A. Kholmogorova and N. Garanyan, a person’s emotional life is determined by two differently directed trends. The first is an increase in the frequency and intensity of emotional stress due to an increase in the pace of life, rapid value, economic, and political changes. The second is a negative attitude towards emotions, which are attributed to a disorganizing role. The consequence of this is an increase in the frequency and strength of psychosomatic diseases, social and interpersonal conflicts, which are often ways of venting feelings.

One can also agree with the authors who argue that many affective disturbances in human behavior are associated with the cult of success, achievement, strength and rationality inherent in modern culture. A successful person is prescribed by society to be strong-willed, cold, and reasonable. However, this leads to the accumulation of emotions, and this, in turn, negatively affects health.

In addition to the cult of rationality, let us dwell on one more factor influencing the course of the crisis. In a society where a person has broad professional opportunities, the stereotypes of success in life change. There are more options for choosing an individual life path. It is clear that expanding the range of choices can complicate the course of the crisis. For example, if in Russia before perestroika there were clearly defined social stereotypes regarding the “stages of success” - these are the Komsomol, a university, a party, now they are quite blurred.

In addition, the rapid change in socio-economic conditions leads to differences in the values, level and rhythm of life of parents and children, preventing the latter from relying on family stereotypes. For example, since now there is no strict idea that it is necessary to start a family by a certain age, young people do it either too early or too late, or even do not get married at all.

The situation is further complicated by social, economic, and political instability in society - people begin to fear change, and the absence of a clear value system in society forces a person to decide the question of the meaning of life on his own, so every age crisis carries some existential meaning.

From the above, we can conclude that in modern Russian society there are quite a lot of social factors that can complicate a person’s passage through the age crisis. Let's consider possible complications in more detail.

What will knowledge of the topic give you?

Photo by Rizky Sabriansyah: Pexels
Our task is to help you understand the issue of the crisis, so to speak, to introduce you to it. When you find out what he is, you will no longer be afraid of him and perceive him as something bad. On the contrary, a crisis is a kind of guiding star that conveys to you that you are at the stage of life’s turning points.

We will not go into demagoguery, but rather let’s begin a detailed study of the stated issue.

Age thresholds

Personality crises have their own age thresholds. This is due to turning points. The child and adolescent age threshold falls on:

  • Newborn crisis from 6 to 8 weeks
  • One year
  • 3 years
  • 6-8 years
  • 12-14 years old
  • 17-18 years old

Photo by Alex Green: Pexels
Each threshold has its own developmental phases and life events. Such events may include:

  • admission to kindergarten;
  • school;
  • adolescence;
  • obtaining a specialty;
  • moving from home.

For adults, age thresholds are:

  • 18 years
  • 30 years
  • 40 years
  • 60 years

But it should be noted that these are approximate age thresholds. For each individual they can have their own time beginning and end. That is, for some it will start a little earlier, and for others a little later.

For adults, age periods are associated with rethinking one’s own life. These stages may be accompanied by depression, rethinking of past experiences, changes in worldview, and radical changes in lifestyle.

Erikson's Eight Stages of Personality Development

  • Stage No. 1: conflict of trust and mistrust. Its duration is from birth to one year.
  • Stage No. 2: conflict of autonomy and doubt (from one year to 2 years).
  • Stage No. 3: conflict between entrepreneurship and inadequacy (from 3 to 6 years)
  • Stage No. 4: conflict between creativity and inferiority complex (from 6 to 11 years).
  • Stage No. 5: adolescence and its characteristic personality identification and role confusion (from 12 to 19 years).
  • Stage No. 6: conflict of intimacy and loneliness (from 20 to 25 years).
  • Stage No. 7: conflict between productivity and stagnation (from 26 to 64 years old).
  • Stage No. 8: conflict of integrity and despair (from 65).

Release your feelings and find a source of support

From childhood, we are instilled with the habit of restraining our emotions and not exposing problems to the public surroundings. You need to be restrained. You can’t “burden” others with your problems. But does such a strategy have any positive results? Does it help you overcome a crisis situation and cope with life’s difficulties?

In fact, everything is completely different: in order to successfully survive a crisis, you need to learn to give vent to your emotions, and, if necessary, use the social support of friends and immediate circle. If you hold back all your emotions, there is a possibility of an “emotional explosion” at the most inopportune moment. And so - you have the opportunity to independently choose the time and method of emotional release (physical activity, creativity or the classic “talk it out”).

In addition, it is better to learn not to be shy about asking for help from loved ones in order to get support in difficult situations. A crisis drains our strength and there is nothing shameful in the natural desire to find support and support from friends and loved ones. This is why there are various kinds of social relationships, so that we can help our neighbor in a difficult situation and so that someone will be next to us in similar conditions, helping to overcome life’s problems and crisis stages of our lives.

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Overcoming a crisis: remember to celebrate your successes

Achieving the final goal may take more than one year, or even more than one decade. Sometimes the movement towards a goal stretches throughout life, or even becomes life itself. Therefore, on the way to a distant goal, small victories may go unnoticed or be devalued.

In order not to be emotionally “blown away” on the way to your goal, you need to learn to celebrate your achievements, both large and small. Firstly, it will stimulate further achievements, and secondly, it will help develop the ability to pay attention to the positive aspects of the situation, to see the positive in this life. By celebrating our successes, we thank ourselves for our efforts and help ourselves gather strength before reaching further heights.


This state does not suddenly appear out of nowhere. As a rule, it is preceded by some events that the person cannot cope with. The result is general dissatisfaction, apathy and reluctance to move on. Let's take a closer look at why we are sometimes overwhelmed by anxiety, hopelessness and despair.

Expectations mismatch

Our daily hopes are often not met. This is not surprising, because life does not stand still. If you had a great desire, but you failed to realize it, then a feeling of dissatisfaction appears inside. It can eventually lead to an acute crisis. The only question is how the individual himself will relate to his condition and whether he will want to change it. It should be taken into account that significant changes are useful for personal development only if they lead him to his cherished goal. If there is a discrepancy between expectations, this is not a reason to despair and give up.

Age-related changes

Once we reach a certain age, we begin to feel the need for change. Completely different values ​​than existed before this moment begin to come to the fore. Human life crises constantly replace each other. It is impossible to hide from them or hide behind old beliefs. Sometimes stereotypes greatly interfere with development, but the individual is still forced to go through some tests. It is difficult to imagine a life in which there would be no movement and no aspirations forward.

Need for change

We all feel from time to time that we need to push the boundaries of our capabilities. For example, it’s time to get a new job, but a person experiences a strong fear of action, and therefore does not know what to do. In this case, an ambivalent state occurs, which is characterized by severe anxiety. The need for change is strong in every individual. But the problem is that not everyone has tolerance, perseverance and a certain courage. Very often we give in to difficulties, without having time to understand what is happening, without comprehending what exactly is happening to us.

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