I'm Dead, but I Don't Know It: Senior Psychologists Still Active in the Workforce

By Alan Swope.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 7, 2014 $US5.00

Written in 1999, "I'm Dead But I Don't Know It" is a song composed by Randy Newman. Randy Newman, 56 years of age in 1999, went on to his most successful career phase in the ensuing years, winning two Academy Awards and five Grammys. He is still active at age 70. Many senior psychologists, including an increasing number of Baby Boomers, are active today practicing, teaching, administering, and conducting research. The average age of retirement for psychologists is high, 71 years of age (Sauré and Zoabi 2000). The average age of retirement for US men is 64, for women 62. There is evidence that intergenerational conflict exists in the health professions (Garcia and Davison 2007; Mohr, et al. 2011). The author is aware of some sentiment that "older" psychologists should make way for younger generations. However, the growing evidence is that senior psychologists not only have valuable accumulated experience but unique cognitive and emotional capacities. In this article, I begin with a personal case example of what I experience as benefits of aging in my professional work. I follow these reflections with a comprehensive review of the literature specific to positive cognitive and emotional attributes of seniors in general and of senior psychologists in particular. This review revealed a number of positive themes associated with aging such as undiminished reasoning and cognition for certain tasks, improved "theory of mind" skills, enhanced social reasoning skills, and a keen sense of personal growth. Lastly, I suggest that training these senior psychologists in geropsychology would fill a gap in the mental health workforce

Keywords: Ageism, Productivity, Economic Status, Wellbeing

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, May 2014, pp.19-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 7, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 327.655KB)).

Prof. Alan Swope

Core Faculty, Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, San Francisco, California, USA

Alan J. Swope, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor at the California School of Professional Psychology (San Francisco) of Alliant International University. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Swope has a private practice serving adults and couples in Berkeley, California. His primary interest is psychotherapy with adults and couples. He has a range of scholarly interests including personality functioning, adult development, psychopathology, well being and impairment of psychotherapists, and theories of development and change. He is also interested in creativity and the psychological study of musical experience.