Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital Director from 1970-2005 of the Grant Study of Adult Development (1938-present), Harvard University
Happiness is Only the Cart: Love is the Horse– The Men of the Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development
Adult development is a lifelong process, one that continues even as the physical body fades. Why is it that some succeed with long-term love relationships? Why do some who endure traumatic childhoods recover and prosper? What leads to wise flourishing in old age, and what are the roles of temperament and environment?
Since 1938, the Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development has studied two cohorts of men: the College Cohort consists of 268 men who attended Harvard College between 1938-1944, and the Inner City Cohort consists of 456 Boston junior high school students selected between 1940-1944. The Study is the longest longitudinal biopsychosocial study of human development ever undertaken, and its goal is to identify predictors of healthy aging. The 724 Study members have been assessed from adolescence until the ninth decade of life, with biopsychosocial questionnaires every two years, independent physical exams every five years, and in many cases personal interviews. The Study is a rich motherlode of reporting on all aspects of male life, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies, and alcohol use.
George E. Vaillant, M.D., a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, was the Director of the Grant Study from 1970-2005, and he has written three books (1977, 2002, 2012) about its fascinating results. The results from the 76-year study are clear – happiness is life is achieved through the experience of loving and being loved. Men who had warm relationships with their mothers earn more than men whose mothers were uncaring, and are less likely to develop dementia. Those who were close with their fathers have lower rates of adult anxiety and increased life satisfaction after age 75. Character is not set in stone – people do change. The crush of a complicated and unhappy midlife can morph into a satisfying and rewarding old age.
NOTE: Professor Valliant spoke at two FAN events on the topic, Happiness is Only the Cart: Love is the Horse – The Men of the Harvard Grant Study of Adult Development.
Event 1: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 7:00 PM, Glenbrook South High School Auditorium, 4000 W. Lake Ave., Glenview.
Event 2: Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 7:00 PM, New Trier High School, Winnetka Campus, Gaffney Auditorium, 385 Winnetka Ave., Winnetka.