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STUDIES OF THE PROCESS OF AGING: FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE PSYCHE OF ELDERLY PERSONS
EWALD W. BUSSE; ROBERT H. BARNES; ALBERT J. SILVERMAN; G. MILTON SHY; MARGARET THALER; LAURENCE L FROST
Am J Psychiatry 1954;110:897-903.
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Abstract

1. The cortical activity of persons over the age of 60 shows a definite change as measured by the EEG. A high percentage have focal dysrhythmias which are primarily found in the left temporal areas. The presence of this focal dysrhythmia alone does not seem to impair psychological function, rather there is questionable evidence that it is associated with more flexibility and an increased ability to learn new patterns. In contrast, a diffuse slowing is accompanied by intellectual deterioration.2. Guilt is not an important psychic determinant in elderly persons and is not the major cause of feelings of depression. Depression is more often related to loss of self-esteem because of feelings of inferiority.3. A poor relationship between old people and their children is a part of a lifelong pattern of neurotic and immature behavior.4. Psychologically, elderly persons who continue to work beyond the usual age of retirement have a higher intellectual capacity than those who do not.All of these findings raise many questions which require further thought and investigation before we have achieved a reasonable and useable knowledge of the factors that influence the psyche of elderly persons.

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