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The Fountain of Age by Betty Friedan

The Fountain of Age

by Betty Friedan

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I found it very strange but serendipitous that I've had this book in my hands since 2005, but I never picked it up to read until I did so for a reading challenge in 2014. In the same year and at age 66, I was suddenly told by my employer of more than 39 years that I no longer had a job and could go home immediately. Thus began my own episode of "aging" and trying to make what I would of this last stage of life. It was with great fear, oppressive emotional stress, and nightmares which would awaken me each night that I started my retirement years. Fortunately, I was able to get many of those pressing financial worries under some sort of control before I chose this book to read. This state of being allowed me to take great interest in the subject matter as I could relate to all of what was being said. I also saw it as a tool to help me move forward in learning to cope with aging in ways I never considered before.

I found it very encouraging to learn that aging is not a limiting condition outside of the physical deterioration one may expect sooner or later. I was happy to learn that brain development and differentiation in age continues through age seventy or eighty...or even longer in some individuals. One thing it will certainly do is to make me work toward demonstrating my personal strengths as I age and not to fear my numerical age (which I never have). I very much appreciate Betty Friedan's momentous work on this book about the aging mystique and only wish it would do as much for aging as her previous books have none for the feminine mystique. Not only this book, but also this subject needs to be much more in the forefront of our reading and learning as the "graying of America" (as American baby boomers become senior citizens) takes place. We, of age, are a strong and determined force, and this book is the proof.

Beware that this is not light reading. This is a thick, dense book, well over 600 pages. Some might find this kind of reading dry. As for me? I was fascinated by every sentence! ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | Mar 3, 2014 |
Silver cover. $2
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
If book sales are any indication, this last of Betty Friedan's books has not had as great an impact as her Feminine Mystique. That is a shame. This volume is far more thoughtful and packed with far more information and insight. Perhaps it just isn't time for the aging revolution. Or perhaps, between those too young to connect and the aging population in denial, there just aren't enough people to listen. This is a superb discussion of issues, problems, and solutions. ( )
1 vote bookcrazed | Jun 6, 2006 |
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On my kitchen wall in Sag Harbor, where we all get together are Hebrew letters from a song celebrating "from generation to generation".
This book is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Miriam, and my father, Harry, who made a larger life possible for me.
And for Daniel, Jonathan, Emily and Rafael, Caleb, Nataya, David, Isabel, Lara, Birgitta, and Benjamin, whose mother and grandmother I am.
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I started this search in what I thought was merely theoretical excitement when I saw that first clue that didn't fir the accepted truth about women on the brink of age--those women who "didn't have menopause".
When my friends threw a surprise party on my sixtieth birthday, I could have killed then all.
...when I asked if there was a seminar on spiritual development in the late stages of life, they studied the catalogue and found "Funeral Services" and "Concepts of the Afterlife".
Depression should not be surprising in any person suddenly stripped of power, of job or earnings, of a sense of productivity and purpose; in any person who suffers the increasing isolation and "sense of no-goodness' that results from others' avoidance of the old.
Research cited here has shown that individuals over sixty-five who do not decline seem to become more integrated in their various characteristics as they get older. They also become increasingly individual and different from others who decline; they continue to develop on the basis of their own accumulated and increasingly divergent experience. In this increasing integration, traumas, declines, or deficiencies in one sphere are compensated for by another. Further, as more than one of these researchers has groped to articulate, something emerges that is more than or different from these separate measurable traits. The "integration" of age seems to transcend the youthful qualities; the transformation is real.
Retirement or loss of physical capacities may require an individual to give up roles and activities in which there have been a great amount of investment. He must then satisfy his competence and environmental mastery needs...with alternative activities...The mental health movement has never paid sufficient attention to the fact that the goals of life shift with age. (James Birren)
...the man (or woman) who loses his job, for reasons of downsizing or takeover, at fifty or sixty cannot find another at the level of his expertise.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671400274, Paperback)

The author of the ground-breaking work, The Feminine Mystique, tackles the meaning of age and aging in contemporary society, for both men and women. 250,000 first printing. BOMC Feat Alt. QPB Split Main. First serial, Time. Tour.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In 1963, Betty Friedan's transcendent work, The Feminine Mystique, changed forever the way women thought about themselves and the way society thought about women. In 1993, with The Fountain of Age, Friedan changes forever the way all of us, men and women, think about ourselves as we grow older and the way society thinks about aging. Struggling to hold on to the illusion of youth, we have denied the reality and evaded the new triumphs of growing older. We have seen age only as decline. In this powerful and very personal book, which may prove even more liberating than The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan charts her own voyage of discovery, and that of others, into a different kind of aging. She finds ordinary men and women, moving into their fifties, sixties, seventies, discovering extraordinary new possibilities of intimacy and purpose. In their surprising experiences, Friedan first glimpsed, then embraced, the idea that one can grow and evolve throughout life in a style that dramatically mitigates the expectation of decline and opens the way to a further dimension of "personhood." The Fountain of Age suggests new possibilities for every one of us, all founded on a solid body of startling but little-known scientific evidence. It demolishes those myths that have constrained us for too long and offers compelling alternatives for living one's age as a unique, exuberant time of life, on its own authentic terms. Age as adventure! In these pages, film producers and beauticians, salespersons and college professors, union veterans and business tycoons, former (and forever) housewives, male and female empty-nesters and retirees, have crossed the chasm of age... and kept going. They have found fulfillment beyond career, bonding that transcends youthful dreams of happily-ever-after, and a richer, sweeter intimacy not tied to mechanical measures of sexual activity, but to deep and honest sharing. While gerontologists focus on care, illness, and the concept of age as deterioration, Friedan sets out to separate the complex actualities of biological aging from its pathologies. She distinguishes what is programmed and irreversible from what remains viable and open to choice and transformation. She demonstrates how important to human vitality after sixty is our own control over our lives. She sheds welcome new light on the nursing home specter, the current brouhaha over menopause, and the new intergenerational warfare. She suggests revolutionary ideas about health care, housing, and work and new uses for the wisdom of age in the evolution of our whole society. The Feminine Mystique is universally regarded as the catalyst for the modern women's movement. In The Fountain of Age, Betty Friedan breaks through the mystique of age-as-problem, and proposes a new Movement of women with men, old with young, that will transform our society.… (more)

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