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Are the Elderly Strange Adults? Social Psychology’s Contribution to the Study of Ageing

1. Introduction

There are two strands of thought on the elderly: on the one hand the specificity of the phenomena accompanying ageing is denied, thus freezing development in a perpetuating of young adulthood; on the other hand the old person is treated as a completely ‘other’ being, almost as if born old, spontaneously and threateningly risen from nothing. In that they originate in the defense of the Ego or in cognitive strategies, these attitudes, in various ways, have kept even science far from a genuine understanding of the ageing processes. Perhaps things are changing, and what psychology has so far taught us about the manner of perceiving and processing the stimuli which arise from social reality partly contributes to the change.
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