Date of Award

11-1-2003

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)

Department

Liberal Studies

First Reader

Sheldon Solomon

Second Reader

Maureen Monaghan

Abstract

This research paper exposes the life review process and illuminates the subjective perspectives on the evolution of the self, via qualitative interviewing techniques/analysis, of six able-minded elderly people (i.e., three females and three males ranging from ninety to ninety five years old) in their natural settings. This quasi-ethnographic investigation is an idiographic, qualitative and brief case/cross-case study research approach with an inductive analysis that complements existing nomothetic, quantitative and deductive theories supporting the actual occurrence of the life review process by the elderly and its "self'-educational value. More specifically, in addition to exposing the life review phenomenon reflected in the life-span perspectives of the self from the viewpoint of the individuals interviewed, this study also reveals several of their potential psychological dynamics pertinent to selfhood: self-evolution, self-defeatism, ideal/real self-continuum, ego integrity versus ego despair, ego defense mechanisms, and self-actualization. Furthermore, this research primarily focuses on elderly people who are institutionalized (i.e., in a nursing home), with one respondent still living fairly independently in the community-in order to have at least one sample to compare and contrast against the other interviews conducted in a local nursing home. Lastly, the provided life stories are rich with possible educational value, and they could potentially serve as a basis for subsequent, more broadly based, quantitative and nomothetic theories involving the life review process and its relation to the evolution of the self for the oldest of the old in nursing homes.

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