Salman Akhtar, Selma Kramer, The Seasons of Life (1997) 183p
Salman Akhtar (1946-) is a Pakistani-American psycho-analyst, who was a former pupil of Margaret Mahler (1897-1985). I previously read ‘Immigration and Identity (1999)‘ by Akhtar. In academia, your success often depends greatly on the favor and serendipity of your professor. Akhtar’s chance was to work with world famous child psycho-analyst Margaret Mahler. Mahler is renowned for her pivotal role in the study of normal development of child psychology. Her famous work ‘The psychological birth of the human infant (1975)’ defined the process of separation-individuation in child psychology.
Akhtar’s ‘The Seasons of Life’ is essentially a literature study of articles and works by subsequent psychologists supporting the view that this separation-individuation continues throughout life.
Anni Bergman worked closely with Margaret Mahler and researched the individuation that continues after object constancy throughout life and how this development of the autonomous self impacts later phases of development and later life conflicts and crises.
Calvin Colarusso argues that the lifelong separation-individuation process comes with an inherent threat of object loss in every stage of growing independence, which can be translated into ongoing negotiation and control during the middle years.
Stanley Cath focuses more on the third phase in life, where older individuals balance between ongoing losses and the restitution in anchoraches that hold the self together. Colarusso uses the example of Mr. Holland’s Opus () to demonstrate the conflicts between family loyalties versus career aspirations or aspirations of the self.