For the first time, the middle-aged make up the biggest, richest, and most influential segment of the country, yet the history of middle age has remained largely untold.

IN OUR PRIME: THE INVENTION OF MIDDLE AGE  finally fills the gap. This important and immensely readable book  by veteran New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen, outlines the cultural, scientific and social forces that created this vital but misunderstood stage of development.  Published by Scribner, IN OUR PRIME is a biography of the idea of middle age from its invention in the late nineteenth century to its current place at the center of American society, where it shapes the way we view our families, our professional obligations, and our inner lives.

Patricia Cohen ranges over the entire landscape of midlife, exploring how its biological, psychological, and social definitions have shifted from one generation to the next. Middle age has been a symbol both of decline and of power and wealth. Explaining why, Cohen takes readers from early twentieth-century factories that refused to hire middle-aged men to twenty-first-century high-tech laboratories where researchers are currently conducting cutting-edge experiments on the middle-aged brain and body. The book combines rich archival research with fresh reporting on the movie, advertising and health industries.

Cohen fits the story of middle age into the larger context of technological advance, social change, and shifting tastes in beauty and fashion. She has gone into the laboratory with researchers to report on what the landmark study, Midlife in the United States (MIDUS), has discovered about the middle-aged brain, body and psyche. Using up-to-the-minute research, she explains the latest findings on health, happiness and sex, and explodes ingrained beliefs about the midlife crisis, empty nest syndrome and divorce. Indeed, midlife is often considered the happiest time of life.

Cohen has traveled to Las Vegas, where anti-aging charlatans and visionaries gather to practice a new kind of middle-age medicine, and incisively evaluates claims about human growth hormones, testosterone supplements, beauty treatments and more. She examines how two of the most powerful forces of the last century – self-help and consumerism – have created a “Midlife Industrial Complex” that manipulates our hopes and anxieties about middle age.

She has also interviewed directors, executives and actors to explore Hollywood’s treatment of middle age in films and on television.

Throughout the decades, middle age has been cast in a series of roles: a measure of productivity, a threat to beauty and sexuality, a scientific conundrum, a marketing tool, a stage of psychological development, a social and political metaphor, a literary device. These frames have affected how individuals have understood and experienced the middle decades and influenced the narratives we construct about our own lives.

Showing there is not one middle age but many, Cohen demonstrates how the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers and Generation X have all experience their middle years differently. IN OUR PRIME will compel readers to re-examine deeply held assumptions about a topic they think they already know.

2 responses to “

  1. Ratko Maltar

    I would like to get in contact with you. Am inventor and have profile on LINKED IN.

    Initially I have invention in area of art and recycling but the teachings do cover enormous span aal of them just briefly mentioned within my profile.

    Am in touch with Cleveland OH metro school district, some
    special education agencies for possible mutual work around for broader benefit.

    As Aspie, know that work around has therapy properties.
    Basic inovation is animated but again….

    … spam of teachings is enormous covering 15 or so possible patents while next step have in mind is mentioned – IMAGERY.

    Contact on LI – ratko.maltar@sbcglobal.net

  2. It is changing again. There are more 20 something Gen-Y than baby Boomers now. They will replace the BBs. The Gen-xers will be like the Korean War generation, stuck between influential shapers of the times.

    By mid century the current demographic trends indicate that most of the world will be 40-70 and a widespread die off of humans may very well begin.

    Individual fear of death and aging is very American, the BBs have it in spades because of how they were spoiled by the wealth and attention on them in the late 20th century. When they are gone I wonder what the pervailing social view will be?

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