The middle passage : from misery to meaning in midlife

by James Hollis

Book, 1993



Call number


Call number



Toronto : Inner City Books, c1993.

Original publication date


Physical description

127 p.; 22 cm

Local notes

Author James Hollis' eloquent reading provides the listener with an accessible and yet profound understanding of a universal condition - or what is commonly referred to as the mid-life crisis. The book shows how we may travel this Middle Passage consciously, thereby rendering our lives more meaningful and the second half of life immeasurably richer.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
A powerful little book on how to navigate the waters of midlife. The thesis is simple, but powerful. In our early years we project our fears, insecurities, wishes and dreams onto others (Spouses, children, parents) and onto our careers. At midlife those projections start to break down. Our spouse is not who we thought they were. Our children have their own lives to live. Our jobs do not bring meaning. Essentially we hit a psychological wall.

Hollis tries to take us through this territory, so we can navigate those tricky waters on our own. Life any "self-help" or psychology book, you have to put it into practice before it has any real meaning for you, so while it is easy to read, many will find it harder to practice.

But there are insightful thoughts here, and anyone in the middle years, who may be experiencing troubled marriage, depression, or other ailments of the psyche would benefit from this book.
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LibraryThing member Desirichter
I found Mr. Hollis's analysis of mid-life tasks to be extremely cogent as well as applicable to my current developmental stage. I'm sure that holes can be found with Jungian models of development, but I really wasn't looking for them this read. Rather, I wanted to see if Hollis's analysis was a rational interpretation of the midlife journey - mine in particular :) I did. Hollis's description mirrored my own midlife journey with shocking accuracy.

I most definitely approached this book with a bias, because I am trying to engage in some meaning making about my own intense desire to reconnect with parts of my childhood self that I'm not sure ever really got to be heard. I love the emphasis on personal responsibility and leaning into discomfort as opposed to eternally blaming parents and society for one's underdeveloped authentic self.

Interestingly, Mr. Hollis chooses to elucidate his theories through literary rather than real-life examples. He interprets modern poems as well as classics by Goethe and Dostoevsky through a Jungian lens. Awesome, awesome introduction into a full-blown psychological reader response.
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LibraryThing member Elizabeth_Foster
A powerful read, but not for the faint-hearted.

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