Psychologists are increasingly interested in the life cycle as the unit
for study and in such questions as whether adult development, like child
development, is to be perceived as a succession of stages. A stage theory
of adult life seems oversimplified for several reasons. First, the timing
of life events is becoming less regular, age is losing its customary social
meanings, and the trends are toward the fluid life cycle and an
age-irrelevant society. Second, the psychological themes and preoccupations
reported by young, middle-aged, and older persons are recurrent ones that
appear and reappear in new forms and do not follow in a single fixed order.
Third, intrapsychic changes occur slowly with age and not in stepwise
fashion. These factors may have implications for the psychiatrist who, in
helping the patient make a meaningful life story from a life history, deals
always with issues of time, timing, and aging.