Resilience in Adulthood and Later Life

Defining Features and Dynamic Processes
  • Carol D. Ryff
  • Gayle Dienberg Love
  • Marilyn J. Essex
  • Burton Singer
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


The study of mental health in old age, as throughout the life course, has addressed primarily the nature of mental illness, disorders, and difficulties. Health in this framework is essentially the “absence of illness”—to the extent that one does not suffer from various forms of mental problems, one is deemed mentally healthy. Such a negative approach, which prevails in the assessment of physical health as well, fails to address individuals’ capacities to thrive and flourish, that is, go beyond the absence of illness, or neutrality, into the presence of Wellness (Ryff, 1995; Ryff & Singer, 1996; 1998). In this chapter, we examine the relevance of positive psychological well-being for understanding mental health in adulthood and later life. Such a focus on the positive underscores, we believe, the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of the current elderly population.


Protective Factor Successful Aging Allostatic Load Positive Mental Health Life Transition 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol D. Ryff
    • 1
  • Gayle Dienberg Love
    • 1
  • Marilyn J. Essex
    • 1
  • Burton Singer
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute on AgingUniversity of Wisconsin—MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Office of Population ResearchPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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