Sosein: Active self-acceptance in midlife

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In light of the increase in life expectancy in the 20th century, a growing number of people are making significant midlife changes. This article tries to steer a way between two cultural myths about this life period. The first is that the only sane solution of the midlife crisis is acceptance of growing limitations. The second is the idea that, given drive and a vision, we are capable of boundless change. The alternative middle way proposed is called "active self-acceptance." It is based on Karl Jaspers's notion that we are all condemned to failure vis-à -vis boundary situations and that there is a Sosein (being thus and no other) that is recalcitrant to change. Jaspers's biography and an extended case example show that active self-acceptance is not passive resignation but initiation of a process of self-transformation in which lucid self-knowledge and acceptance are combined into a process that allows full self-development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-65
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Active self-acceptance
  • Karl Jaspers
  • Midlife
  • Sosein


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