The Psychology of Retirement: Coping with the Transition from Work

By Schwartz, Steven | The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE, February 28, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Psychology of Retirement: Coping with the Transition from Work


Schwartz, Steven, The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


The Psychology of Retirement: Coping with the Transition from Work. By Derek Milne. Wiley-Blackwell, 204pp, Pounds 19.99. ISBN 9780470972663. Published 19 December 2012

Woody Allen once quipped that the way to give God a good laugh is to tell Him your plans for the future. Perhaps that is why I have never bothered with plans. I never planned to become an academic or a dean or a vice- chancellor. I certainly never planned to become a book reviewer. Opportunities just arose and I was happy to go along with them. So when I retired last year, I wasn't worried. I thought something would come up; it always does.

My friends were appalled. What sort of fool jumps directly from work to leisure? Successful retirement requires careful planning and I was silly to leave my fate to fate.

As it happens, I did have kind of a plan. I copied it from old King Lear, who just wanted to "shake all cares and business ... and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh ... and hear poor rogues talk of court news; who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out".

I was just about to put this plan into effect when I received The Psychology of Retirement for review. It was just what I needed. According to Derek Milne, this book is designed to "foster your maturing process in order to help you to achieve your potential and to secure personal happiness". Although I am probably mature enough (a bit too ripe, perhaps), I don't think I have yet reached my potential and I do like being happy. So I dived right in.

Milne notes that there are many books on retirement, but he claims that his is the first to "draw thoroughly on psychology" using "well- established theories, recent research evidence", case studies and his professional psychological understanding of "what helps us to tick".

(I have always wondered what makes me tick. I have reached some tentative conclusions that involve chocolate, wine and women, but this is probably not the right place to go into all that.)

Milne's book ranges widely over many subjects. He shows why retirement may cause stress and how coping mechanisms help retirees to adapt. He suggests that "coping is like juggling" because we must learn to deal with a variety of stressors at the same time. …

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