"Generally speaking we call a man well adapted if his productivity, his ability to enjoy life, and his mental equilibrium are undisturbed."1 This definition of successful adaptation by Hartmann introduces his discussion of ego-regulated activities which counteract disturbances in homeostasis and actively improve a person's relationship to his environment. Formulations in ego psychology2,3 provide a framework for considering adaptation in terms of specific phases of development with their accompanying conflicts requiring resolution and have emphasized the human ego's great capacity for transformation in adapting to life stress. We find it useful to view senescence in this context and to define successful adaptation to old age as the result of having coped successfully with problems specific to this phase of life, namely the maintenance of self-esteem in the face of declining physical and intellectual capacities; coping with grief and depression resulting from personal losses; finding means to contribute
McMAHON AW, RHUDICK PJ. Reminiscing: Adaptational Significance in the Aged. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;10(3):292–298. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720210074011
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