David Levinson: Seasons\' of A Man\'s Life



In May of 1977, Daniel Levinson constructed a model of the season\'s of
a mans life. His developmental theory consists of universal stages or phases
that extends from the infancy state to the elderly state. Most development
theories, such as Freud\'s psychosexual development theory or Piaget\'s cognitive
development theory, end in the adolescent stage of life. Levinson\'s stage
theory is important because it goes beyond most theories assuming that
development continues throughout adult life.
Levinson based his model on biographical interviews of 40 American men.
These 40 men were between 35 to 45 years in age and they worked as either
biology professors, novelists, business executives or industrial laborers. The
biographical interviews lasted one or two hours and ranged from six to ten
interviews for each subject. The questions asked focused on the subject\'s life
accounts in their post adolescent years. The interviews focused on topics such
as the men\'s background (education, religion, political beliefs) and major
events or turning points in their lives.
Levinson\'s concept of life structure (the men\'s socio-cultural world,
their participation in their world and various aspects of themselves) is the
major component in Levinson\'s theory. The life structure for each person
evolves through the developmental stages as people\'s age.
Two key concepts in Levinson\'s model are the stable period and the
transitional period in a person\'s development. The stable period is the time
when a person makes crucial choices in life, builds a life structure around the
choices and seeks goals within the structure. The transitional period is the
end of a person\'s stage and the beginning of a new stage.
Levinson\'s model contains five main stages. They are the pre-adulthood
stage (age 0 - 22), the early adulthood stage (age 17 - 45), the middle adult
stage (age 40 - 65), the late adulthood stage (age 60 - 85) and the late late
adult stage (age 80 plus). Levinson states "the shift from one era to the next
is a massive development step and require transitional period of several
years."(Levinson, 1977) This would explain why there is an overlap in each of
these stages.
Levinson\'s first adult stage in his model is called the Early Adult
Transition Period. This phase is similar to Erikson\'s psychological theory in
that both concern the young adult\'s identity crisis or role confusion. It is
during this phase that the young adult first gains independence (financial or
otherwise) and leaves the home. This is a transitional stage because it marks
the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood.
The second stage would be a stable period because it marks the time
where the adult must pick a role, establish goals and build a life structure.
This stage provides the young adult with any roles and choices for their future.
Levinson believes that it is during this time that the young person dreams of
his future success in a career, family life and status. Levinson also believes
that the presence of a mentor or older teacher is a great influence in guiding
the person through the obstacles in their career paths.
The third stage, which can be divided into two parts, is called the Age
30 transition. The first part of this phase deals with when the young adult
reflects on their career and past successes and also plans for future success
and status in their career as well as making plans in starting a family and
settling down. In Levinson\'s own words, the Age 30 transition "provides an
opportunity to work on the flaws and limitations of the first adult life
structure and to create the basis for a new and more satisfactory structure with
which to complete the era of early adulthood." (Levinson, 1977) This Age 30
transition parallels Erikson\'s autonomy versus shame and doubt stage which
Erikson applies to toddlers. The second part of the Age 30 transition period is
the settling down stage. It is in this stage that the person feels a need to
establish a role in society, whether in their career or their family life, which
ever is the most central part of their life structure.
The fourth phase of Levinson\'s model is called Becoming One\'s Own Man or
BOOM phase. In this stage, the man feels constrained by the authority figures
in their world. The individual wants more independence, authority and to be
true to their own voice. With this larger amount of authority, there comes a
greater amount of responsibility and burden. This is also a time of conflict as
the person struggles with the notion