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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jonathan Hoffman

Mid-Life Crisis: Seen the Movie?

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Although many of us take middle age in stride, experiencing a mid-life crisis is fairly common among both women and men. For some, the problem is existential: acknowledging that life has reached the midpoint can engender complex self-questioning about the meaning of life and whether one’s true purpose has been fulfilled. Others may find the physical changes associated with getting older more daunting then the philosophical issues.

Whether the trigger is graying hair, an expanding waistline, career dissatisfaction or relationship ennui, a mid-life crisis can be hard to deal with. Psychologists consider a mid-life crisis a time to take stock of one’s life. It can either be an opportunity for self-growth and positive change or for self-destructive actions and despair.

I wonder if Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ famous stages regarding the process of how people adjust to the prospect of dying are applicable to those in mid-life crises what movies might help them cope more effectively.


This is the time for self-delusional rationalizations such as “I’m getting better” and “50 is the new 30.” It’s also the time when one is most likely to try masking middle age with inappropriately youthful attire and hairstyles, as well as surgical interventions that are almost guaranteed to evoke whispered comments like “Who does she think she’s fooling?” My recommended movie for those needing to move on from this stage is “Sunset Boulevard.”


This is when coping poorly with getting older has some folks looking for someone or something to blame for their lives not exactly working out according to plan. Most of the time, it’s the spouse or the job that evokes ire for “making me old before my time” or “ruining my life.” It’s during this period that the “nuclear option” is at it’s highest risk for being selected or, in other words, blowing up one’s life. A great cathartic movie for those experiencing this stage is “Falling Down.”


“If only I could be young again, I would do it all differently” is the kind of do-over wishful thinking that typifies this stage. Movies that have a middle-aged character who magically gets to relieve their youth like “Peggy Sue Got Married,” might be especially appealing for anybody yearning for a do-over. After a screening of this flick, you may be more able to accept the reality that you really can’t go back.


During this part of mid-life crises, sufferers are likely to be sighing a lot of forlornly reminiscing about their lost youth. Sulking in the bedroom and staring blankly up at the ceiling is common during this stage. Sometimes, these individuals take out their mid-life crises on themselves by their letting their grooming; excise and eating habits go completely down the drain. Perhaps watching the delightful movie “Singin’ in the Rain” might help raise their spirits.


This is the chance to start growing old gracefully, accept the inevitable march of time and develop a new, more mature perspective on life. Where I live in South Florida, however, this is about as likely as snow on South Beach in July. But for those in the mood to watch a middle-aged gent work through his mid-life crisis and make a noble, accepting choice despite bitterly conflicted feelings, it might be worthwhile to give “Casablanca” a look.

If you want to avoid getting stuck in any of the stages prior to acceptance, consider the following suggestions:

  • Try to maintain your focus on the positive aspects of aging, such as growing in experience and wisdom.

  • Don’t buy into the notion that happiness is only for the young. Actually, it’s possible to be about equally happy at all ages, and research suggests that older people could actually be happier.

  • Try not to rate your self according to aspects of life that are ultimately beyond your control, like getting older.

  • Stay open-minded and take the time to acquire new skills. That’s probably what will truly keep you youthful.

Me? I’m one of the lucky ones who have been spared the dreaded mid-life crises. Perhaps many years of training in the field of psychology have helped. Anyway, that’s what the guy who’s going to be doing my hair transplants thinks. He told me I can pick a movie to watch during the procedure. Any suggestions?

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