A Historical Overview and General Principles of Adult Development

  • Calvin A. Colarusso
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


The concept of the life cycle and adult development is nearly as old as recorded history. For instance, Solon (ca. 630–560 B.C.), the ancient Greek philosopher and poet, described six periods of adulthood and assigned developmental tasks to each, such as developing one’s capabilities to the fullest and increasing in virtue. Shortly thereafter, Confucius (551–479 B.c.) described life experience in terms of age-related issues, such as setting one’s heart to learning at 15 years of age, planting one’s feet firmly on the ground at 30, knowing the biddings of heaven at 50, and following the dictates of the heart at 60. This idea of a continuous developmental process and change was eventually expressed in the lifelong Confucian quest for self-realization. Similar notions are embedded in Western thought, in the Talmudic prescription for the successive stages of maturation in the faith, and in the Christian quest for satisfaction and salvation, which addresses all major adult developmental themes.


Late Adulthood Developmental Task Adult Development Adult Personality Personal Death 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Calvin A. Colarusso
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of California at San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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