cover image Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life

Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life

Gene D. Cohen, M. D. Cohen. William Morrow & Company, $25 (374pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97684-3

As the baby-boom generation swells the ranks of the American middle-aged, life expectancy has increased 50% since 1900, older people are becoming more physically and mentally active than ever before and diseases are more easily preventable, detectable and treatable. A doctor specializing in gerontology for 30 years, Cohen focuses on creativity, which he stresses is ""not just for geniuses"" but holds potential for everyone at every age. With a wink toward Einstein, Cohen uses the formula ""C=me2"" (creativity equals a mass of knowledge plus the interaction of inner and outer experience) to describe his theory of lifelong creativity, which may be manifested both privately (""creativity with a little c"") and publicly (""big C""). Cohen identifies four developmental phases in mid- and later life--reevaluation, liberation, summing-up and encore--that provide opportunities for creativity to blossom. He cites the latest scientific research, which disproves dated views of inevitably deteriorating brain function, points out the advantages of experience and the willingness to experiment that come with age, and notes that the adversity and loss that often crop up later in life actually encourage creativity by forcing change. With sidebars noting the accomplishments of many people well past midlife, excellent exercises for igniting creativity and thorough appendices, Cohen provides a wealth of information and a fresh, timely perspective on aging. (Mar.)