Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultivating late life potential: A heuristic study of 60 to 75 year old adults in doctoral and psycoanalytic education
by Huston, Kathleen W., Ph.D., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2011, 298; 3450302
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the experience of adults between 60 and 75 years of age, referred to as young-old, who were enrolled in advanced professional education—in doctoral studies or psychoanalytic training. The objective was to understand essential psychological experiences that resulted from professional education after 60 years of age. Motivations, challenges, personal enrichment, and professional benefits were explored. The research used heuristic methodology which was informed by case study perspectives. Data from 8 Caucasians, 6 women and 2 men between 63 and 74 years old, were collected through semistructured interviews. In prior education they completed 21 academic degrees. Thematic content analysis was used for data analysis. Results showed that this education involved high levels of stress but also facilitated deeply meaningful personal and professional growth. Education focused on personally important areas of psychology, involved quest-like pursuit of something greatly valued. Five significant new perspectives on aging were identified in relation to later-in-life professional education: Coresearchers sought new achievements to enhance professional skills and roles. They considered continued growth an essential element of this part of life. Their ability to manage educational difficulties came from skills honed throughout life. Eldering was redefined as 2-way communication between younger and older people to create new meaning. Most striking was their vibrant self-awareness, a heightened self-reflective vitality based on changes they considered authentic and profound. Informal observation indicated that extant adult developmental models did not adequately encompass the dynamic late life growth that this study identified. Transpersonal elements included transformational understanding of self and with others, reduced egoism, epistemologies of the heart and mind, and compassion. The young-old in intensive new professional education are a minority but their outlier voices may foreshadow future social patterns as the baby boomer generation enters these years in greater numbers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schavrien, Judy
Commitee: Blackstone, Judith, Combs, Allan
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Global Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Gerontology, Counseling Psychology, Higher education
Keywords: Aging, Doctoral education, Growth, High age, Old adults, Psychoanalytic education
Publication Number: 3450302
ISBN: 978-1-124-58852-0
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