How do we become who we are?

What might it feel like to be born? What does ‘I love you’ really mean? Why do we repeat the patterns of our parents’ and grandparents’ lives without realising it? The Stages of Life provides the ‘big picture’ of the human lifespan that is often missing in developmental psychology courses. The author explores how our personalities evolve in response to both genetic and social influences, how and why individuals differ, and how some problems tend to develop at particular stages of the life course.

“My hope in writing this book” states the author, Hugh Crago, an Adjunct Fellow in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University “was to address the experience of life’s stages ‘from the inside’, rather than simply describing them from the outside.”

Exploring the theories and research findings that have helped explain the complexities of human personality and human relational problems, The Stages of Life shows how some genetically-linked traits are often ‘bundled’ together. These traits of fearfulness, sensitivity and reactivity produce children and adults who are more at risk of encountering problems during their life course. Featuring examples from the lives of composer Joseph Haydn, artist Vincent van Gogh and novelists Charles Dickens and the Brontës, Crago illustrates how ‘thin-skinned’ individuals may be more creative, empathic and original than their ‘thicker skinned’ peers.

“Human development becomes vivid and memorable when we see it playing out in individual lives and in history.” explains Hugh. “How did Margaret Thatcher become ‘the iron lady’? Was Patton really the tough, aggressive soldier he seemed? Why did Enid Blyton do to her own children what her mother had done to her? These are the questions that I answer.”

Academic and general readers will find that The Stages of Life illuminates puzzles in their own lives and opens a road to understanding and acceptance of both themselves and others.