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Declarative and Differential Aspects of Subjective Well-Being and Its Implications for Mental Health in Later Life

  • Dov Shmotkin
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)

Abstract

Subjective well-being (SWB) refers to the overall evaluation that people make about the quality of their life, generally by summing up their essential life experiences along a positive—negative continuum. Though SWB is widely considered indicative of mental health (Bryant & Veroff, 1984; Gurin, Veroff, & Feld, 1960), the exact relationship between the two constructs is not yet settled. The definition of the DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) for mental disorder does not allude to SWB, but rather to “present distress” (p. xxi). In its definition since the 1940s, the World Health Organization (1996) states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (p. 1). Notably, this definition does not separate physical from mental health, and regards “well-being” in its broadest sense as an essential constituent of health. Thus, mental health can be conceptualized as composed of two inclusive elements, psychological distress and psychological well-being (Veit & Ware, 1983), which are not mutually reducible, but rather complementarily indicate the variations in a person’s mental status (Lewinsohn, Redner, & Seeley, 1991). Although most scholars are concerned with the psychopathological and distressful aspects of mental health, the “positive mental health” approach (Johoda, 1958) attempts to better understand the role of adaptive processes. It can reasonably be assumed that SWB plays a role in at least some of these processes.

Keywords

Life Satisfaction Negative Affect Positive Mental Health Social Indicator Research Middle Adulthood 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dov Shmotkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and the Herczeg Institute on AgingTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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