Postformal Thought and Adult Development

Living in Balance
  • Jan D. Sinnott
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


Adulthood may be described as a stage of life in which we wrestle with the mystery of existence, in the midst of life’s chaos, in the here-and-now rather than in some perfect potential future. The unique qualities of adulthood can be difficult to describe developmentally. Adults are neither changing toward some defined endpoint, nor changing away from some past perfection. Instead, healthy adults keep a dynamic homeostasis; they balance. They change as if in a dance, or as if practicing an Eastern art such as tai chi, moving through forms and paces. In dancing, what matters and what is enjoyable—the whole purpose in fact—is movement in the present moment, and, of course, not falling over. In dancing, the process itself is the goal. To choose to dance is to pick a form and simply do it; the walk within the dance does not “get” anywhere! But for those of us in Western cultures, especially those of us who study human behavior and are enculturated to seek goals and linear causes, the metaphor of the “dance” of development might become an irritating metaphor, too, because Westerners want to know where the dance of adult development is going. If we do demand to know the destination (in terms of life trajectory), the dance seems to be going to a destination no grander than death. Aware of this, the conscious development of adults seems to include the ability to take part enthusiastically in the dance of life for its own sake, with an awareness of mortality.


Gender Role Intimate Relationship Adult Development Marital Adjustment Dyadic Adjustment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan D. Sinnott
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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