The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

CF 654: Development IV: Adulthood & Aging

Ph.D. Program: spring 2012-13

Michael Casali, PhD

Course Description

This course will examine adulthood and aging in the context of psychodynamic theory and the life course model of  development. The individual is viewed as progressing on a unique developmental trajectory based on historical forces (i.e., economic, political, social), the timing of key transitions (i.e., work, marriage, retirement), and the practical decisions made within these contexts. Life course factors significantly shape the meanings humans attribute to their lives, which are revealed in the clinical setting via the patient's personal narrative, transference, and the broader quest to integrate earlier experiences.


  1. To appreciate the complex interaction between psychological, socio-cultural, historical, and biological influences over the life course;
  2. To develop an understanding of life course theory and its clinical relevance.;
  3. To integrate psychoanalytic and social science perspectives on adulthood and aging;
  4. To further develop skills in critical thinking and analysis by the practice of group discussion.


  1. Brief Integration Papers – Due sessions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, these one- page papers provide the opportunity to examine and apply key themes of adult development and aging. Choosing a minimum of one reading for the week, you will provide a) a brief summary of a developmental concept, theme, or research finding of interest, and b) an application of that idea to a real or hypothetical situation. You may use current or past patients, individuals you've known, and historical or fictional characters from non-fiction writing, novels or movies.
  2.  Presentation – You will present a brief summary and integration (15-20 minutes) of one reading of your choice. You may use current events or trends, personal experiences, case material, fictional characters, or any of the case “subjects” of your brief integration papers to apply the ideas.
  3. Final Integration Paper – This 6-8 page paper will in a more expanded and in-depth way examine a theme of adult development or aging in the context of case formulation. Using a real or fictional case “subject” of your choice, you will consider: a) How contemporary developmental research and psychodynamic clinical theory contributes to an understanding of this individual; b) How it explains the behaviors, motives, thinking patterns, affect, relationships, etc. that pervade the subject’s current development, and; c) How this person’s experience can inform your clinical work with similar patients.

Evaluation and Grading

  • Oral Participation – 25% of final grade
  • Presentation – 25% of final grade
  • Integration Papers – 25% of final grade
  • Final Paper – 25% of final grade

Course Outline

Class 1: 1/26 - Perspectives on the Life Course

  • Elder, G.H. Jr., and Johnson, M. K. (2003). The life course and aging: Challenges, lessons, and new directions. In R. A. Settersten, Jr. (ed.) Invitation to the life course: Toward new understandings of later life (pp. 49-81). New York: Baywood. (ICSW Database)
  • Frankel, S. A. (2001). New and creative development through psychoanalysis. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 37: 523-550. (PEP Archive
  • Neugarten, B. L. (1979). Time, age, and the life cycle. American Journal of Psychiatry, 136: 887-894. (ICSW Database)

Class 2: 2/9 - Tasks of Adult Life

  • Binder, P., & Nielsen, G.H. (2005). Balancing losses and growth: A relational perspective.  Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 33:431-451. (PEP Archive
  • Colarusso, C.A. (1990). The third individuation: The effect of biological parenthood on separation-individuation processes in adulthood. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 45, 179-195. (PEP Archive
  • Gould, R. L. (1981). Transformational tasks in adulthood. In S.I. Greenspan and G. H. Pollock (eds.) The course of life: Psychoanalytic contributions towards understanding personality development. Vol. 3: Adulthood and the aging process (pp. 55-89). Adelphi, MD: NIMH. (ICSW Database)

Class 3: 2/23 - Partnering & Parenthood

  • Benedek, T. (1959). Parenthood as a developmental phase—A contribution to the libido theory.  Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 7: 389-417. (PEP Archive)
  • Mitchell, S. A. (1997). Psychoanalysis and the degradation of romance. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 7: 23-42. (PEP Archive)
  • Notman, M. T. (2006). Mothers and daughters as adults. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 26: 137-153. (PEP Archive)

Class 4: 3/9 - Is There a Mid-Life Crisis?

  • Ball, A., Cohen, B., Jinks, D. & Wlodkowski, S. (Producers), & Mendes, S. (Director). (1999). American Beauty. [Motion Picture]. United States of America: Dreamworks.
  • Colarusso, C.A. (2007). Transience during midlife as an adult psychic organizer: The Midlife transition and crisis continuum. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 62: 329-358.
  • Jaques, E. (1965). Death and the mid-life crisis. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 46: 502-514. (PEP Archive)
  • Katz, A.W. (2002). Fathers facing their daughters' emerging sexuality: The return of the Oedipal. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 57: 270-293. (PEP Archive)

Class 5: 3/23 - More Perspectives on Mid-Life

  • Cohler, B.J., and Galatzer-Levy, R. M. (1990). Self, meaning, and morale across the second half of life. In R.M. Nemiroff and C.A. Colarusso (eds.) New dimensions in adult development (pp. 214-260). New York: Basic. (ICSW Database)
  • Colarusso, C. A. (1999). The development of time sense in middle adulthood. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 68: 52-83. (PEP Archive)
  • McAdams, D. P. (1993). Putting it all together in midlife. In Stories we live by: Personal myths and the making of the self. New York: Morrow, pp. 195-221. (ICSW Database)

Class 6: 4/6 - Perspectives on Late Adulthood

  • Abraham, J. et al (Producers), & Wagner, A. (Director). (2007). Starting out in the evening. [Motion Picture]. United States of America: Cinetic Media.
  • Colarusso, C.A. (1998).  A developmental line of time sense: In late adulthood and throughout the life cycle.  Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 53: 113-140. (PEP Archive)
  • Guttman, D. (1986). Oedipus and the aging male: A comparative perspective. Psychoanalytic Review, 73D: 137-148. (PEP Archive)

Class 7: 4/20 Perspectives on Late Adulthood II

  • Colarusso, C.A. (2000). Separation-individuation phenomena in adulthood: General concepts and the fifth individuation. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 48: 1467-1490. (PEP Archive)
  • Lax, R. F. (2001). Psychic and social reality in aging. Psychoanalytic Review, 88: 755-770. (PEP Archive)

Class 8: 5/4 - Death and Dying

  • Craib, I. (2003). Fear, death and sociology. Mortality, 8: 285-295. (ICSW Database)
  • Leavy, S.A. (2011). The last of life: Psychological reflections on old age and death. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 80: 699-715. (Instructor)

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