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The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife

(Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts #59)

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  630 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Why do so many go through so much disruption in their middle years? Why then? Why do we consider it to be a crisis?

The Middle Passage presents us with an opportunity to reexamine our lives and to ask: "Who am I apart from my history and the roles I have played?" It is an occasion for redefining and reorienting the personality, a necessary rite of passage between the
Paperback, 127 pages
Published 1993 by Inner City Books
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Neeraj Bali
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I believe some books come to you when you need them and are ready to receive them. If The Middle Passage had come to me a few years ago, I wonder if it would have held my interest or even been intelligible to me. Last year, this was recommended by a stranger - a psychologist - and even though I bought it immediately, its turn to be read came only yesterday. And through most of the night (such was the unfolding excitement of reading it) and some of the day, I read it in large gulps.

It is a book
Michael Mayer
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the better depth psychology written for the layperson I've read. I would recommend it to anyone thirty years and up. I wouldn't wait until "middle age" to start reading about maturation issues. This book addresses many of the issues I started experiencing (especially the anxiety, the emptiness, and the self-doubt) when I realized just how out of touch I was with issues of the self and soul. It explains the resentment I began to develop about my last job and why I felt the need to find ...more
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a jungian based book on finding meaning in this crazy world we inhabit. It helps to explain why we make the choices we do and possibly avoid the ones that bring us misery and choose the ones that bring meaning into our short lives. This is not an easy ready. I've read it three times - once for over all concept, two for understanding and three to reinforce concepts. But I credit this book for saving me from myself.
Andrew Marshall
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you're feeling depressed and unsatisfied with your life, it could be a really positive sign. That's the big message of this small book because rather than running your life round what your parent's, society or your partner feels is right, you might be ready to be true to yourself.

Going through a mid-life crisis is incredibly difficult (or having your partner stuck in one!) but a lot of the problem is that we have no context or understanding what's happening.

I would like to recommend this
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Lucid, scholarly, and easy to comprehend this influential book by Hollis answers the question: What is our task in mid-life? In his words, "The act of consciousness is central; otherwise we are overrun by the complexes. The hero in each of us is required to answer the call of individuation. We must turn away from the cacaphony of the outer world to hear the inner voice. When we can dare to live its promptings, then we achieve personhood. We may become strangers to those who thought they knew us, ...more
Laura Lee Carter
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I've been looking for forever, since I experienced my own "middle passage" in the early 2000s. Finally a book to help validate ALL of my perceptions,feelings and emotions as I transitioned into my second life, one filled with new fulfillment and meaning.

Much I have read says there is no such thing as a "midlife crisis" but as a psychotherapist focused on midlife, and as the self-proclaimed Midlife Crisis Queen online, I hear from others everyday who know that midlife can be an
Michelle DeFrancesco
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who has lived more than 30 years
Absolutely everyone should read this book- and I mean everyone- past the age of 35 could gain insight from this. I could quote this book all day long- Hollis explains concepts based in Jungian theory and lays it out in a way that is easy to understand, grasp and appreciate. Despite what your beliefs might be, you can see the truth in his words and you can't deny them.

The Middle Passage sat on my shelf for almost a year after buying it- I read the first chapter and a half and it was making me
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
James Hollis draws from clinical practice and Jungian analysis in describing mid-life journeys toward (or flights from) individuation and wholeness. Hollis describes the Middle Passage as the breakdown of the "First Adulthood" (roughly from the teen years up to about forty), when the ingrained coping mechanisms of young adulthood finally break down against the realities of life history and its progression. The author explains how Jungian individuation can proceed (or fail to proceed) in modern ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up shortly after finishing another Hollis book called "Why Good People Do Bad Things." I was so impressed by that book that I wanted to delve further into Hollis' Jungian take on life and I was not disappointed.
"The Middle Passage" examines many of the same concepts but focuses more on that time in our life when we seem to seek meaning with greater desperation than when we were younger. It really is a special time and this book encourages the reader to not only celebrate the
"In effect, the person one has been is to be replaced by the person to be. The first must die." If you are ready to examine what your life has become and allow yourself to to step into the liminal space where you are not yet who you will be, this book will accompany you and be your guide. James Hollis is one of the very best at synthesizing Jung's principles of depth psychology and presenting them in an understandable and applicable format. In fewer than 150 pages I found the wisdom and strength ...more
Feb 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful insightful book about mid-life transition. It touches on projections and moves you to an understanding in the area of what holds us back from expressing ourselves and listing to our own truth. Hollis is a master at explaining difficult concepts with a clear readable diction that helps you to understand and grow.
Morgan Blackledge
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love James Hollis. And I liked this book. But I have to say, I liked his more recent book on the same subject (Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up) even more. May as well go ahead and spoil yourself rotten and read em both!
Sampson Vam
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone going thru the dreaded "mid-life crisis". Illuminating thoughts on relationship dynamics.
Gwendolyn Jerris
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
initially began reading this book in order to better understand what i speculate someone i love is going through. saw more of myself than i thought i would, and it was humbling. i will agree with what other reviewers have said about making it through the beginning. i literally felt nauseated and terrified in the first ten pages. keep going. i also couldn't put it down after that. i second the other reviewers, too, who say they would recommend this to thirty somethings. i could have honestly read ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended as one way to address thoughts about being in the middle years of an average life. A therapist on a men's retreat recommended it in dealing with what most call "mid-life crisis." If you find yourself thinking you're at midlife and having thoughts that are new, surprising or disturbing, I recommend this book. Don't expect it to answer all your questions. In fact, I might have more questions now than before I read it. I definitely needed help with Jungian concepts and ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A lot of things to think about here about why people feel feelings of crisis at midlife.

Like his other book I read, it can be a little slow going, despite how short it is. I love the style of his writing personally, but it does take a bit more attention to read than other styles.

Not much in the way of solutions, typical vague "know thyself" "you'll find the answers within" stuff, but still profound in the attention it brings to what people are going through in that time period and why and a
Valerie Verveda
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psy
It’s about not just he middle crisis, but a very short and precise info on the applied psychology aspects, fixing which you could make your life better. So useful and maybe it is so for me because I was in therapy for some time and all the concepts he suggested were partially experienced and lived through.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like a “what to expect...” for middle-age, only in really thick psycho-lingo. Totally worth it. Highly recommended. If you do read this, please come over and have some tea or wine and tell me what you think.
Ed Wojniak
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book! Hollis does much to balance and clarify reasonable expectations about relationships, the meaning and purpose of the first half of life, death and dying, and the importance of having and fulfilling a connection with the infinite. Highly recommended!
Robert Irish
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was impressed by how thoughtful this was. It is speaking about how to deal with "the second adulthood" and guides a reader into the work to do toward what Jung calls "individuation" or what we might simply call maturity.
Catherine Grey
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The perfect book for managing the mid-life crisis. Well-written, insightful and a very informative read.
Sean Murphy
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best book about the mid-life crisis, hands down.
Maura Higgins
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books ever written about middle age!
Michael G
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
A very dense, illuminating book on the middle passage in life. Not for the faint of heart. Do not fret, for the Buddha accompanies you on your journey. Will you accept your own road to Emmaus?
Justin Souter
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: insight
Outstanding insight, cogent & pithy writing, and powerful framework for thinking and - more importantly - being via growing into one's 'second adulthood'... So good, I read it twice!
Shelly Leyden
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Invited away on a girl's weekend in Wimberley, I read this per our host's suggestion that we discuss. Heady and academic with big vocabulary to wrestle, this slim volume managed to piercingly identify many of my thoughts and feelings this year. I've repeatedly described 2016 as "trippy" to any and all who will listen to me, and at the 6-month mark not much as changed. I seem to see everything differently, and my relationship to my world seems altered in profound yet impossible-to-articulate ...more
Ofer Engel
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
There are definitely hidden gems in the book and it is a book well worth reading. However, it is often quite obscure, the style is at times overly abstract and verging on pomposity. Concrete examples are rare and bizarre. It is often not quite clear how they illustrate the more abstract ideas. Philosophically, Hollis never seems to make explicit his assumptions, some of which appear to border on essentialism (e.g., assuming the existence of a "true-self", an "authentic-self", which seems to be ...more
Anne Rosales
Apr 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Good Info, Boring Narration.

This review pertains to the unabridged Audible version of the book.

I enjoyed the content of this book, and I liked the various anecdotes and illustrations. However, it is fairly heavy on the Jungian concepts and jargon, so at times it seemed rather abstract and hard to follow on an audio basis.

Also, the narrator has an even, expression-less style that perhaps is useful because it conveys no judgment -- but it also conveys no excitement or interest. Indeed, my player
Geoff B
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is the secret decoder ring to the midlife crisis we go through around 38 - 42. After reading this, that whole chaotic period made sense, even though little of it made sense at the time.

Just before you buy that red sports car, or worse... this might be the book to read.

We have given this book to many friends as they passed through this tumultuous period. Not too early--we all need to experience our world falling apart. Otherwise, how would we learn anything? But in the middle, when it's
Michael Clark
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Anyone who has felt disillusioned by life and found themselves questioning who they are "apart from [their] history and the roles [they've] played" - who they really are - will find this book incredibly insightful. In the end this book doesn't have the answers or even a blueprint for the answers, but it does allow us to live more consciously and increasingly become more aware of ourselves.

Hollis' language is, at times, a bit academic, and some of the case studies in literature were hard to
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James Hollis, Ph. D. is Executive Director of the Jung Center of Houston, TX, a practicing Jungian Analyst (psychotherapy developed by C.G. Jung - the eminent Swiss psychiatrist), and author of eleven books.

Other books in the series

Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts (1 - 10 of 132 books)
  • Alcoholism and Women: The Background and the Psychology
  • The Illness That We Are: A Jungian Critique of Christianity
  • Vertical Labyrinth: Individuation in Jungian Psychology (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 20)
  • The Spiral Way: A Woman's Healing Journey
  • When the Spirits Come Back (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts, 33)
  • The Mother: Archetypal Image in Fairytales (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts, 34)
  • Acrobats of the Gods: Dance and Transformation
  • Eros and Pathos: Shades of Love and Suffering (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 40)
  • The Dream Story (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 44)
  • Saturday's Child: Encounters With the Dark Gods (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 51)
“The capacity for growth depends on one’s ability to internalize and to take personal responsibility. If we forever see our life as a problem caused by others, a problem to be "solved," then no change will occur.” 31 likes
“The act of consciousness is central; otherwise we are overrun by the complexes. The hero in each of us is required to answer the call of individuation. We must turn away from the cacaphony of the outerworld to hear the inner voice. When we can dare to live its promptings, then we achieve personhood. We may become strangers to those who thought they knew us, but at least we are no longer strangers to ourselves.” 24 likes
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