Chapter 35Positive Aging


Alfred Paine was a model of the Sad-Sick. True, he did not acknowledge either his alcoholism or his depression. Like Pollyanna, Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss, and Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman, Paine was a master of denial. On pencil and paper tests of neuroticism, he scored very low on the depression subscale. On questionnaires, he described himself as close to his children and in quite good physical health. Thus, it was only by interviewing him personally, talking with his wife, examining his objective medical record, reading the disappointed questionnaires from his children—and then, finally, by reading his obituary—that Alfred Paine's misery could be fully appreciated. The uncomplaining nature of Paine's written replies did not alter the fact that his life story had always been terribly sad. Thus, one of the great lessons of the 75-year prospective study that I am about to describe is that it is what people do, not what they say in personality inventories, that predicts the future.

On the other hand, Richard Luckey was a well-loved child who took excellent care of himself, but unlike Alfred Paine, Luckey had come from more modest beginnings. None of his four grandparents had gone beyond grade school. One grandfather had been a police officer and the other a self-made owner of a large baking company. His father graduated from high school and went on to become a successful businessman so that Richard Luckey, like Alfred Paine, had gone ...

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