“I’m over 30! Can I really expect to change?”

You’ve surpassed the 30 year mile marker along your life’s journey. You’re fully aware of your emotional and mental stuff. And you often ask yourself, “Can I really change at my age?” Let’s talk, okay?

I’m 55 years old, and I’ve had my share of emotional and mental stuff over the many years. And I’ve pondered that question gazillions of times.

The best part is, I found my answer; and I’d like to share it with you beginning with this first of a two-part series.

Now, if we’re going to do our best work, as we approach the strategies and prospects for later-life (did I say that tactfully) emotional and mental change, we need to set the table. And that means we’re going to have to go clinical.

Diagnostically, the emotional and mental disorders are recorded on two axes. Disorders noted on Axis I include the mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders; as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dementia (oops).

Then there’s Axis II. The various presentations of mental retardation are recorded here. And of relevance to this discussion, so are the personality disorders. These would include borderline, antisocial, and narcissistic. Here’s a link to a chipur article on the personality disorders.

By the way, if you’d like to learn more about a multi-axial diagnosis, here’s a link to another chipur piece that’ll get the job done.

The personality disorders are noted on a separate axis so they won’t be lost amidst the hub-bub of the Axis I disorders. But what really separates the personality disorders from a good old fashioned case of depression, is their pervasiveness.

These are disorders that are deeply rooted in all sorts of genetic and environmental dynamics. I might also add, short of a personality disorder diagnosis, it could be said one has borderline, antisocial, and/or narcissistic traits.

One other table-setting topic I’d like to quickly present. 20th Century psychotheorist, Hans Eysenck, believed temperament, our characteristic mode of emotional response, is the featured component of personality. And it was Eysenck’s belief it was up and running at birth.

For example, neuroticism, is one of Eysenck’s superfactors of temperament. People who fall into this dimension are generally fairly calm to very nervous. According to Eysenck, these folks are prone to suffer from neurotic problems – issues of a mental or emotional nature that result in stress.

Okay, so why am I presenting all of this psychobabble – making the distinction between Axis I and Axis II; and discussing personality disorders and  temperament?

Well, the fact of the matter is; strategies and prospects for change vary greatly in accordance with both Axis and the particular diagnosis on that Axis.

Well, let’s stop for the day. We’re off to a fabulous start; the clinical table being set. Tomorrow we’ll delve into all things strategies and prospects. And I believe you’ll find the information extremely enlightening and hopeful.

So be sure to come back.

In the meantime, what feelings, thoughts, or experiences would you like to share in a comment? We’d all appreciate it.