The life review: An interpretation of reminiscence in the aged

  • Robert N. Butler


The universal occurrence of an inner experience or mental process of reviewing one’s life in older people is postulated. It is proposed that this process helps account for the increased reminiscence of the aged, that it contributes to the occurrence of certain late-life disorders, particularly depression, and that it participates in the evolution of such characteristics as candor, serenity and wisdom among certain of the aged.


Remote Memory Revealing Character Endogenous Depression Life Review Constructive Aspect 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Adland, M. L. Review, case studies, therapy and interpretation of acute exhaustive psychoses. Psychiat. Quart., 1947, 21, 38–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Balint, M. The psychological problems of growing old. In Problems in Human Pleasure and Behavior. London: Hogarth, 1951.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Buber, M. Guilt and guilt feelings. Psychiatry, 1957, 20, 114–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Busse, E. W. Psychopathology. In J. E. Birren (ed.), Handbook of Aging and the Individual. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959, 390391.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Busse, E. W., Barnes, R. N., and Silverman, A. J. Studies in the processes of aging: 1. Behavioral patterns in the aged and their relationship to adjustment. Dis. Nerv. System, 1954, 15, 22–26.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Busse, E. W., et al. Studies in the process of aging: Factors that influence the psyche of elderly persons. Amer. J. Psychiat., 1954, 110, 897–903.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Butler, R. N. Intensive psychotherapy for hospitalized aged. Geriatrics, 1960, 15, 644–53.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Butler, R. N. Re-awakening interests. Nursing Homes, J. of the Amer. Nursing Assn., 1961, 10, 8–19.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cannon, W. B. “Voodo” death. Amer. Anthropologist, 1942, 44, 169–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Durkheim, E. Suicide, translated from Le Suicide, 1897, by J. A. Spaulding and G. Simpson. Glencoe, Ill: The Free Press, 1951.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    English, H. B., and English, A. C. A Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychological and Psychoanalytical Terms. New York: Longmans, Green, 1958.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Erikson, E. H. The problem of ego identity. In Identity and the Life Cycle. Psychological Issues 1: 101–164. New York: International Universities Press, 1959, 113 and 121.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Felix Frankfurter Reminisces: Recorded in talks with Dr. Harlan B. Phillips. Reynal and Company, 1960.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fromm-Reichmann, F. On Loneliness. In D. M. Bullard (ed.), Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959, 325–336.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Goldfarb, A. I. The rationale for psychotherapy with older persons. Amer. J. Med. Sci. 1956, 232, 181–185.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Grotjahn, M. Psychoanalytic investigation of a 71-year-old man with senile dementia. Psychoanl. Quart., 1940, 9, 80–97.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Grotjahn, M. Some analytic observations about the process of growing old. In G. Roheim (ed.), Psychoanalysis and Social Science, Vol. 3. New York: International Universities Press, 1951, 301–312.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hinsie, L. E., and Campbell, R. J. Psychiatric Dictionary, third edition. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1960.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    James, H. The Beast in the Jungle. In C. Fadiman (ed.), The Short Stories of Henry James. New York: Modern Library, 1945, 548–602.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Krapf, E. E. On aging. Proc. Roy. Soc. Med. (London), 1953, 46, 957–964.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Life Magazine. Old Age: Part IV. Time, Inc., August 3, 1959.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    National Institute of Mental Health. Human Aging: Biological and Behavioral Aspects. Bethesda, Md.: Public Health Service Publication, No. 986, 1962.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Perlin, S., and Butler, R. N. Psychiatric aspects of adaptation to the aging experience. In Human Aging: Biological and Behavioral Aspects. Bethesda, Md.: Public Health Service Publication, No. 986, 1962, 143–158.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Perrier, F. The meaning of transference in schizophrenia, translated by M. A. Woodbury. Acta Psychother (Basel), 1955, 3 suppl. 266–272.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rechtschaffen, A. Psychotherapy with geriatric patients; A review of the literature. J. Gerontol., 1959, 14, 73–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Richter, C. P. On the phenomenon of sudden death in animals and man. Psychosom. Med., 1957, 19, 191–198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Schulz, D. Personal Communication.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Simenon, G. The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By. New York: Berkley, 1958.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Werner, M. et al. Self-perceived changes in community-resident aged: “aging image” and adaptation. Arch. Gen’l. Psychiat., 1961, 4, 501–508.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Will, O. A. Human relatedness and the schizophrenic reaction. Psychiatry, 1959, 22, 205–223.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Butler

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations