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April 14, 1978

Adaptation to Life

Author Affiliations

University of Kentucky Lexington

JAMA. 1978;239(15):1552-1553. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280420088029

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In 1937 the Grant Study of Adult Development was conceptualized and funded with the purpose of selecting a small group of Harvard undergraduates who seemed healthy and were thought likely to do well in life. These individuals agreed to participate in a unique prospective study, which has reaped a harvest of more than 35 years of follow-up. Although the author has already published many separate scientific articles based on data from this cohort, this book brings together a useful synthesis.

References and appendixes document the scholarly approach of this serious research project. Yet the reader is charmed with the author's wit and common sense as the heuristic model of adaptive ego-defense mechanisms is introduced and carefully illustrated with examples from the participants' lives. Although clinical candor is used in describing case vignettes, a deliberate attempt to camouflage individual identities succeeds through the use of case examples that describe more than