Study No. 74 in D Major

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Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users — and around six-in-ten Instagram users — visit these sites at least once a day. All reports and blog posts related to social media. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research.

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Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. As more Americans have adopted social media, the social media user base has also grown more representative of the broader population. Young adults were among the earliest social media adopters and continue to use these sites at high levels, but usage by older adults has increased in recent years. YouTube and Facebook are the most-widely used online platforms, and its user base is most broadly representative of the population as a whole.

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Usage of the major social media platforms varies by factors such as age, gender and educational attainment. For many users, social media is part of their daily routine. He kept it limping along—surveys dwindled to once every two years—in part by asking questions about smoking habits and cigarette-brand preferences, a nod to a new study patron, Philip Morris. But as Vaillant points out, longitudinal studies, like wines, improve with age. And as the Grant Study men entered middle age—they spent their 40s in the s—many achieved dramatic success. Four members of the sample ran for the U.

One served in a presidential Cabinet, and one was president. But hidden amid the shimmering successes were darker hues. As early as , 20 members of the group displayed severe psychiatric difficulties. Underneath the tweed jackets of these Harvard elites beat troubled hearts. You grew up in a kind of fairy tale, in a big-city brownstone with 11 rooms and three baths.

Your father practiced medicine and made a mint. When you were a college sophomore, you described him as thoughtful, funny, and patient. As a child, you played all the sports, were good to your two sisters, and loved church. You and some other boys from Sunday school—it met at your house—used to study the families in your neighborhood, choosing one every year to present with Christmas baskets. But you recovered fully, that was your way. At Harvard, you continued to shine.

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And then what happened? You married, and took a posting overseas. You started smoking and drinking. In early years I used to pride myself on not having any. This was probably because they were too deeply buried and I unwilling and afraid to face them.

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You stopped returning questionnaires. Vaillant wrote you in Vaillant tracked down your therapist. You seemed unable to grow up, the therapist said. You had an affair with a girl he considered psychotic. You looked steadily more disheveled. You had come to see your father as overpowering and distant, your mother as overbearing. She made you feel like a black sheep in your illustrious family. Your parents had split up, it turns out. You broke out spontaneously into Greek and Latin poetry. You lived on a houseboat. You smoked dope. But you still had a beautiful sense of humor.

Your obituary made you sound like a hell of a man—a war hero, a peace activist, a baseball fan. Even the numbers on the case studies have been changed. A handful have publicly identified themselves—including Ben Bradlee, the longtime editor of The Washington Post , who opened his memoir, A Good Life , with his first trip to the study office. John F. Kennedy was a Grant Study man, too, though his files were long ago withdrawn from the study office and sealed until The study began in the spirit of laying lives out on a microscope slide. In George Vaillant, the Grant Study found its storyteller, and in the Grant Study, Vaillant found a set of data, and a series of texts, suited to his peculiar gifts.

A tall man, with a gravelly voice, steel-gray hair, and eyes that can radiate great joy and deep sadness, Vaillant blends the regal bearing of his old-money ancestors, the emotional directness of his psychiatric colleagues, and a genial absentmindedness. A colleague recalls one day in the s when Vaillant came to the office in his slippers.

And his parents had a storybook romance. They met in Mexico City, where she was the daughter of a prominent expatriate American banker and he was a hotshot archaeologist working on pre-Columbian Aztec digs. He was an accomplished man who, his son says, showed little trace of doubt or depression. But one Sunday afternoon in , at home in Devon, Pennsylvania, George Clapp Vaillant, then 44, went out into the yard after a nap. His wife found him by the pool, a revolver next to him and a fatal wound through the mouth.

His elder son and namesake, the last to see his father alive, was 10 years old. Immediately, a curtain of silence fell around the tragedy. It was just kind of a complete cutoff. George spent days with it, spellbound by the photographs and words that showed college students morphing, over the course of a few paragraphs, into year-olds. It was , and the Grant Study men were beginning to return for their 25th college reunions. Vaillant was He would spend the rest of his career—and expects to spend the rest of his life—following these men.

The range of his training and the complexity of his own character proved to be crucial to his research. He learned the orthodoxy, which included a literary approach to human lives, bringing theory to bear through deep reading of individual cases. But he also had training in the rigors of data-driven experimental science, including a two-year fellowship at a Skinnerian laboratory, where he studied neurotransmitter levels in pigeons and monkeys.

There he learned to use the behaviorist B. Vaillant is an optimist marinated in tragedy, not just in his life experience, but in his taste. Vaillant loves Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, too, and the cartoons of the dark humorist Charles Addams, like the one where several Christmas carolers sing merrily at the Addams family doorstep, while Morticia, Lurch, and Gomez stand on the roof, ready to tip a vat of hot oil on their heads.

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When his children were small, Vaillant would read them a poem about a tribe of happy-go-lucky bears, who lived in a kind of Eden until a tribe of mangier, smarter bears came along and enslaved them. It could break. Santa left me a pony, if only I can just find it! His central question is not how much or how little trouble these men met, but rather precisely how—and to what effect—they responded to that trouble.

Vaillant explains defenses as the mental equivalent of a basic biological process.

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When we cut ourselves, for example, our blood clots—a swift and involuntary response that maintains homeostasis. And just as clotting can save us from bleeding to death—or plug a coronary artery and lead to a heart attack—defenses can spell our redemption or ruin. In contrast to Anna Freud, who located the origins of defenses in the sexual conflicts of a child, Vaillant sees adaptations as arising organically from the pain of experience and playing out through the whole lifespan. Both men grew up fearful and lonely. By his late 40s, staff researchers using independent ratings put Goodhart in the top fifth of the Grant Study in psychological adjustment.

Tarrytown, meanwhile, was in the bottom fifth. After a relapse into drug abuse, Tarrytown killed himself at Goodhart lived to Most psychology preoccupies itself with mapping the heavens of health in sharp contrast to the underworld of illness. Depression is defined as errors in cognition. If we use defenses well, we are deemed mentally healthy, conscientious, funny, creative, and altruistic.

If we use them badly, the psychiatrist diagnoses us ill, our neighbors label us unpleasant, and society brands us immoral. This perspective is shaped by a long-term view.

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Whereas clinicians focus on treating a problem at any given time, Vaillant is more like a biographer, looking to make sense of a whole life—or, to take an even broader view, like an anthropologist or naturalist looking to capture an era. As adolescents, the Grant Study men were twice as likely to use immature defenses as mature ones, but in middle life they were four times as likely to use mature defenses—and the progress continued into old age.

When they were between 50 and 75, Vaillant found, altruism and humor grew more prevalent, while all the immature defenses grew more rare. This means that a glimpse of any one moment in a life can be deeply misleading. A man at 20 who appears the model of altruism may turn out to be a kind of emotional prodigy—or he may be ducking the kind of engagement with reality that his peers are both moving toward and defending against.

And, on the other extreme, a man at 20 who appears impossibly wounded may turn out to be gestating toward maturity. For Camille, such detached neutrality seemed to herald progress.

At 35, he spent 14 months in a hospital for an infection and had what he described as a spiritual awakening. Afterward, he bloomed as a psychiatrist, channeling his own needs into service. As a child, he had fantasized about being a minister or physician.

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In several vignettes in the book, Vaillant presents Merton as an exemplar of how mature adaptations are a real-life alchemy, a way of turning the dross of emotional crises, pain, and deprivation into the gold of human connection, accomplishment, and creativity. At ages 55 and 60, Merton had severe depressions. In the first instance he was hospitalized.

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An attractive, amiable boy from a working-class background, you struck the study staff as happy, stable, and sociable. After college, you got an advanced degree and began to climb the rungs in your profession. You married a terrific girl, and you two played piano together for fun. You eventually had five kids. I know what real work is like.

Heath noted after a visit from you in But you had no complaints. After interviewing you at your 25th reunion, Dr. Two years later, at 49, you were running a major institution. The strain showed immediately. Any duck will do. Three years after you started the job, you resigned before you could be fired.

You were 52, and you never worked again. Seven years later, Dr. Vaillant wrote. But you called yourself happy. Would you give an example of a bit of wisdom you acquired and how you came by it? Never expect you will fail. What allows people to work, and love, as they grow old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant, who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically.

Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight.