George E Vaillant

George E Vaillant
Partners HealthCare

About

156
Publications
50,328
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13,118
Citations
Citations since 2017
2 Research Items
2848 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400

Publications

Publications (156)
Article
Objectives: We explored whether wisdom and well-being in old age are the result of early personality traits related to personality growth or personality adjustment, respectively, or successful human development as outlined by Erikson's stage theory and the life course paradigm. Method: Structural equation models were applied to analyze 60-year l...
Article
Full-text available
The present study examines changes in defense maturity from mid to late life using data from an over 70-year longitudinal study. A sample of 72 men was followed beginning in late adolescence. Participants' childhoods were coded for emotional warmth. Defense mechanisms were coded by independent raters using the Q-Sort of Defenses (Roston et al., 199...
Article
Full-text available
Viewing the Earth from space has often prompted astronauts to report overwhelming emotion and feelings of identification with humankind and the planet as a whole. In this article, we explore this experience, known as the “overview effect.” We examine astronaut accounts of the overview effect and suggest existing psychological constructs, such as aw...
Article
Full-text available
Erikson's (1950) model of adult psychosocial development outlines the significance of successful involvement within one's relationships, work, and community for healthy aging. He theorized that the consequences of not meeting developmental challenges included stagnation and emotional despair. Drawing on this model, the present study uses prospectiv...
Article
Objectives This study aimed to examine the possible antecedents of both dementia and sustained intact cognition at age 90 years among men who underwent a prospective, multidisciplinary assessment from ages 19 to 90 years, with little attrition.Methods We conducted a prospective 20-year reassessment of 196 (out of 268) former Harvard college sophomo...
Article
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) works because it discovered the use of positive emotions as a therapeutic tool 50 years before academic psychology discovered positive psychology. First, AA's emphasis on admitting dependence on and attachment to others, leads to the positive emotion of love and second, the recognition that to keep it you have to give it a...
Article
Objectives: Prior studies confirm that after experiencing childhood adversity, resilient adults can recover and engage in generative growth. This study explored the long-term effects of childhood adversity (assessed as harsh parenting and/or childhood poverty) on successful aging for individuals who either achieved or failed to achieve Erikson's p...
Article
Full-text available
Prior studies have shown that perceived health status is a consistent and reliable predictor of morbidity and mortality. Because perceived health status and objective health are not highly correlated, we sought to identify additional factors that shape self-perceptions of health. Research suggests that childhood experience is an important predictor...
Article
This paper proposes that eight positive emotions: awe, love/attachment, trust/faith, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy and hope constitute what we mean by spirituality. These emotions have been grossly ignored by psychiatry. The two sciences that I shall employ to demonstrate this definition of spirituality will be ethology and neuroscience....
Article
A growing body of research suggests that personality characteristics relate to physical health; however, this relation ship has primarily been tested in cross-sectional studies that have not followed the participants into old age. The present study utilizes data from a 70-year longitudinal study to prospectively examine the relationship between the...
Chapter
This chapter measures successful aging by assessing four facets of health-both physical health and psychosocial health, both subjective health and objective health. First, with the passage of time, progressively diminished physical reserves are an inevitable part of aging, but, of course, the rate at which these diminished reserves occur is variabl...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once important to self and directed at making a difference in the world beyond the self. In the present study, ratings of one aspect of purpose, pro-social beyond-the-self intentions, were gleaned from data collected from young men attending college between 1938 and 19...
Article
SEVEN MODELS FOR CONCEPTUALIZING POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH ARE REVIEWED: mental health as above normal, epitomized by a DSM-IV's Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of over 80; mental health as the presence of multiple human strengths rather than the absence of weaknesses; mental health conceptualized as maturity; mental health as the dominan...
Article
Full-text available
Coping responses to stress can be divided into three broad categories. The first coping category involves voluntarily mobilizing social supports. The second category involves voluntary coping strategies like rehearsing responses to danger. The third coping category, like fever and leukocytosis, is involuntary. It entails deploying unconscious homeo...
Article
The philosophy of mind is intimately connected with the philosophy of action. Therefore, concepts like free will, motivation, emotions (especially positive emotions), and also the ethical issues related to these concepts are of abiding interest. However, the concepts of consciousness and free will are usually discussed solely in linguistic, ideatio...
Article
Adverse child environments are associated with the onset of mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood. The mechanisms underlying these life-course associations remain poorly understood. We investigate whether emotional reactivity to stress is a mechanism in the association between childhood environment characteristics and adult mood and anxiety disor...
Article
According to theories of stress-related growth, coping with traumatic events can lead to greater psychosocial maturity in resilient individuals or psychosocial maladjustment in less resilient individuals. Using a sample of 160 World War II veterans of the 60-year longitudinal Study of Adult Development, this research examined the long-term effects...
Article
Full-text available
Wisdom has received increasing attention in empirical research in recent years, especially in gerontology and psychology, but consistent definitions of wisdom remain elusive. We sought to better characterize this concept via an expert consensus panel using a 2-phase Delphi method. A survey questionnaire comprised 53 Likert scale statements related...
Conference Paper
A central goal of positive developmental psychology – the study of thriving over the life-span – is to identify the psychological assets that individuals draw upon in order to make their lives rewarding. In this poster, we introduce and apply the positive-developmental psychology construct of psychological capital (Csikszentmihalyi & Nakamura, 2009...
Article
Full-text available
Recognizing religiosity and spirituality as related yet distinct phenomena, and conceptualizing psychological well-being as a multidimensional construct, this study examines whether individuals' frequency of formal religious participation and spiritual perceptions are independently associated with diverse dimensions of psychological well-being (neg...
Chapter
Full-text available
Marital HappinessMaslow, AbrahamMature Defense MechanismsMeaningMeditationMenninger, KarlMental HealthMental IllnessMindfulnessMoral DevelopmentMoral JudgmentMotherhoodMyers, David G.References
Article
The objective of the current study was to help clarify the previously ambiguous results concerning the relationship between church attendance and later physical health. The current study examined the effect of church attendance on 4 different indicators of later health in a sample of inner city men followed throughout their lifecourse. Measures of...
Chapter
This chapter provides an overview of development across the lifespan using a transactional model, reviews the challenges in studying adult development, provides biological perspectives, reviews cohort effects, and presents developmental formulations of adulthood. Erikson's model of stages of adult development is presented as the best organizing fra...
Article
This paper proposes that eight positive emotions: awe, love (attachment), trust (faith), compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy and hope constitute what we mean by spirituality. These emotions have been grossly ignored by psychiatry. The two sciences that I shall employ to demonstrate this definition of spirituality will be ethology and neuroscien...
Article
In prior studies, the effect of religious involvement upon physical health has shown generally positive results, but these studies have been marred by confounders. The 65-year-old US prospective Study of Adult Development has offered an opportunity to repeat these studies with somewhat better control over confounders. The physical and mental health...
Article
Full-text available
The authors examined the quality of sibling relationships in childhood as a predictor of major depression in adulthood. Study subjects were 229 men selected for mental and physical health and followed from ages 20 through 50 and beyond as part of a study of adult psychosocial development. Data were obtained from interviews with participants and the...
Article
This chapter uses the Study of Adult Development - Harvard Medical School's sixtyyear prospective study of the lives of college and inner-city men - to answer two questions about generativity. First, should the Eriksonian concept of generativity be distinguished from the human capacity for warm relationships? Second, does generativity lead to impro...
Article
An abstract is unavailable. This article is available as HTML full text and PDF.
Article
The present prospective study has followed a cohort of inner city men from adolescence (14±2) until age 65. While previous studies of shorter duration have identified numerous childhood factors that powerfully influence outcomes in young adulthood, this study examined the effect of these well-documented prognostic factors on occupational status acr...
Article
Full-text available
Although previous studies of shorter duration have identified numerous risks and protective factors that powerfully influence outcomes in young adulthood and midlife, this long-term prospective study examines the effect of these prognostic factors on age at retirement and satisfaction with retirement. In this prospective study, a cohort of socially...
Article
To examine patterns of chronic opioid use in selected groups with arthritis and low back pain and compare them with patterns among persons with ischemic heart disease. The study database consisted of Medicare beneficiaries who were enrolled in a drug benefit program for low-to-moderate income Pennsylvania residents. We identified selected patients...
Article
The present report attempts to replicate on the probands' brothers, a previously reported (1992) negative relationship between maternal grandfather longevity (MGFL) and affective illness in grandsons. Hitherto this finding had not been replicated. To provide further evidence that the association may be recessive and X-linked, we also examined the a...
Article
Objective: The present report attempts to replicate on the probands' brothers, a previously reported (1992) negative relationship between maternal grandfather longevity (MGFL) and affective illness in grandsons. Hitherto this finding had not been replicated. To provide further evidence that the association may be recessive and X-linked, we also exa...
Article
To discuss the mechanism of action, the efficacy and the safety of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the treatment of alcoholism. The published works on effective treatments for alcoholism is briefly reviewed and a prospective multidisciplinary follow-up of recovery from alcoholism in two community cohorts of adolescent males followed from 1940 until th...
Article
Only in the last 30 years has psychiatry begun to develop empirical approaches to conceptualizing and assessing positive mental health. Six models of mental health are reviewed here. The author points out pitfalls in research on mental health, e.g., equating average with healthy, failing to distinguish trait from state, overlooking cultural norms,...
Article
To study the course of male alcohol abuse from age 20 to age 70-80 years. A prospective multi-disciplinary follow-up of two community cohorts of adolescent males from 1940 until the present. Two hundred and sixty-eight former Harvard undergraduates (college sample) and 456 non-delinquent, socially disadvantaged Boston adolescents (core city sample)...
Article
Positive psychology has recently developed a classification of human strengths (Peterson & Seligman, in press). We aimed to evaluate these strengths by investigating the strengths and life satisfaction in three adult samples recruited from the community (young adult, middle-aged, and older adult), as well as in the surviving men of the Grant study...
Article
Until now, prospective studies of aging have begun with 50- to 60-year olds, not adolescents. Premature deaths, childhood variables, and alcohol abuse have been often ignored. So has positive aging. As people live longer, gerontology needs to understand the determinants of health as well as illness in the later years. The present study follows a co...
Article
Until now, prospective studies of aging have begun with 50-60-year-olds, not adolescents. Premature death, childhood variables, and alcohol abuse have been often ignored, as has successful aging. The authors reviewed the existing literature on health in late life in order to highlight that, increasingly, successful aging is not an oxymoron. The pre...
Article
Seventy-three inner-city boys with a mean IQ of 80 were followed prospectively from age 14 until age 65. Their adult adjustment was compared to a socioeconomically matched sample of 38 boys with a mean IQ of 115. Although childhood social disadvantage did not distinguish the groups with low and high IQs, half of the low-IQ men enjoyed incomes as hi...
Article
Psychology needs a metric for positive mental health that would be analogous to the IQ tests that measure above-average intelligence. The Defensive Function Scale of the DSM-IV offers a possible metric. In the present article the author links the transformational qualities of defenses at the mature end of the Defensive Function Scale--altruism, sup...
Article
It is well established that until age 40 years, delinquent individuals have roughly twice the mortality of nondelinquent individuals and that the excess deaths are largely due to accidents, violence, and substance abuse. The present study examined if the increased mortality of delinquent subjects continues until age 65 years and, if so, why. The au...
Article
Full-text available
One hundred sixty-three men who have been followed prospectively for over 45 years were rated on a set of 25 personality traits at the end of their college careers and took the NEO-PI at approximately ages 67–68. The college traits were transformed, via a rating procedure, to scales assessing each of the Big Five dimensions and related to the NEO-P...
Article
The literature on the mortality of depression was assessed with respect to five issues: 1) strength of evidence for increased mortality, 2) controlling for mediating factors, 3) the contribution of suicide, 4) variation across sample types, and 5) possible mechanisms. All relevant English language databases from 1966 to 1996 were searched for revie...
Article
Full-text available
Many studies have noted a strong association between poor social support and premature mortality. A limitation of such studies has been their failure to control adequately for confounders that damage both social supports and physical health. A 50-year prospective multivariate study of 223 men was used to examine the possible causal relationships be...
Article
The patterns of use of defense mechanisms by 306 inner-city men were rated from interviews at age 47 and these ratings were analyzed by cluster analysis. Five clusters resulted. The correlates of cluster membership were examined using data from the 50-year longitudinal study of these men. One cluster exhibited the greatest use of mature defenses; t...
Article
The aim of this historical study was to examine the methods actually used by Sigmund Freud in his practice of psychoanalysis in his mature years (1907-1939) and to assess the relationship between these methods and Freud's published recommendations concerning anonymity, neutrality, and confidentiality. The authors used both published and unpublished...
Article
A 55-year prospective study attempted to determine the antecedents and consequences of positive mental and physical health in adult men. A substudy was conducted to look at the late-life physical health of men selected to be as unlike men with major depressive disorder as possible. Of 237 men selected for health and followed since college, 64 undis...
Article
Following critiques that the DSM multiaxial system lacks psychodynamic information useful for treatment, an axis for defense mechanisms was developed for DSM-IV, including up to 7 individual defenses from a glossary of 27, and 3 predominant defense levels from a list of 7. We tested the feasibility, reliability, and discriminability of the proposed...
Article
This prospective study investigated whether major depressive disorder can cause negative life events. One hundred and thirteen normal college men have been followed biennially from age 26 until age 62. Fourteen major negative life events were assessed retrospectively by a self-report checklist. A blind rater read each man's complete records over th...
Article
This study was an effort to clarify both the psychological contributions to and the long-term consequences of uncomplicated essential hypertension. The subjects were 193 healthy college students selected as sophomores and prospectively followed for over 50 years. Independent assessments of physical and mental health were made. Although objective in...
Article
This study attempted to determine the course of male alcohol abuse from the age of 40 years to 60 or 70 years, to estimate the duration of abstinence required for stable remission and to study the hypothesis of progression of symptoms in chronic alcohol abuse. The subjects were 268 former Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass) undergraduates (college...
Article
Recent research suggests that affective disorder is associated with increased mortality and physical morbidity, but the reasons for this association remain uncertain. This report describes a 50-year prospective study of 240 men evaluated from the time they were university students in 1940–1942. A family history of mental illness was obtained and th...
Article
Recent research suggests that affective disorder is associated with increased mortality and physical morbidity, but the reasons for this association remain uncertain. This report describes a 50-year prospective study of 240 men evaluated from the time they were university students in 1940-1942. A family history of mental illness was obtained and th...
Article
This study investigated whether negative life events affected subjects' long-term physical and mental health. One hundred thirteen normal college men completed biennial follow-up questionnaires from age 26 until age 62. At age 62 they retrospectively assessed 16 major negative life events with a self-report checklist. A blind rater read each man's...
Article
Over the past 55 years, two longitudinal studies have been monitoring the drinking behaviors and their consequences of several hundred men from adolescence and early adulthood to old age. The studies identified co-occurring sociopathy, cultural factors (e.g., ethnicity), and genetic factors (i.e., a family history of alcoholism) as risk factors for...
Article
The authors took advantage of a 50-year prospective study of World War II veterans to examine the predictors and correlates of combat exposure, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and trait neuroticism. The subjects were 107 veterans who had been extensively studied before and immediately after serving overseas in World War II. All se...
Article
Studies supporting Cloninger's original Type 1/Type 2 hypothesis for classifying the genetic transmission of alcoholism have sometimes failed to control for important sources of potential bias. First, the environmental effects of parental alcoholism must be distinguished from the genetic effects of parental alcoholism. Secondly, antisocial personal...
Article
It is often not just life stress but also a person's idiosyncratic response to life stress that leads to psychopathology. Thus, despite problems in reliability, the validity of defenses makes them a valuable diagnostic axis for understanding psychopathology. By including a patient's defensive style as part of the diagnostic formulation, the clinici...
Article
The high rate of comorbidity between major depressive disorder and alcohol abuse is noted and the possible causes of the association are examined. Three reasons for the high degree of comorbidity are discarded--underlying dependent personality disorder and/or childhood deprivation, a common hereditary defect, and self-medication with alcohol for pr...
Article
We report on a 40-year study of 169 college men and their wives. We examined marital satisfaction prospectively and retrospectively. When examined retrospectively, marital satisfaction followed a weak curvilinear pattern with the lowest point of marriage at approximately 20 years. When studied prospectively, the U-curve disappeared and marital sati...
Article
Full-text available
We examine the relationship between ancestral age at death and affective disorder. A cohort of 204 socioeconomically favored men was selected for mental and physical health 50 years ago and followed up until age 69 +/- 1 (+/- SD) years in an interdisciplinary study. During follow-up, 49 of these men were identified at some point as being psychosoci...
Article
Full-text available
Defense-mechanism theory and control-process theory are related psychodynamic approaches to explaining and classifying how people ward off emotional upsets. Although both theories explain defensive maneuvers in the same motivational terms, each defines categories different1y. Classic categories define defense mechanisms at a relatively macroscopic...
Article
The report by Hughes et al1 on the prevalence of substance use among US physicians helps to rescue our knowledge of the matter both from fantasy and from parochialism. The authors sent questionnaires to a random sample of 9600 US physicians and they made an effort to analyze their results in terms of gender, age, region of the country, and the type...
Article
In individual psychotherapy of personality disorders, patients' uses of the less mature ego mechanisms of defense can detrimentally affect the intersubjective field. The diagnostic epithet "borderline" often reflects unconscious countertransference more than it does diagnostic precision. Psychotherapists can avoid the deleterious effects of such co...
Article
A cohort of 184 men from socioeconomically advantaged ancestors has been followed from ages 18 to 65. In order to test the hypothesis that ancestral longevity would predict both mental and physical vigor, the men's physical and psychosocial health have been prospectively monitored, and the age at death of their parents and grandparents obtained. An...
Article
To compare the relative risks of alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking. Cohort studies utilizing a 12-to-16-year follow-up of 47-to-52-year old men. 237 Caucasian college sophomores (COLLEGE sample) and 366 socially disadvantaged junior high school students (CORE-CITY sample) selected in 1940-43 for relative mental health and for interdisciplinary st...
Article
Forty women who had been selected by Lewis Terman in 1921 for his study of intellectually gifted California school children were reinterviewed in 1987 (Mean = 77 years, SE±1). These women had been prospectively followed by questionnaire over the intervening 65 years. Their capacity for creativity–putting something in the world that was not there be...
Article
This study explored the relationship between personality and exercise over the life span by using young adult personality characteristics to predict current exercise behavior in late middle-aged male graduates from the Harvard University classes of 1942 to 1944. After controlling for prior exercise behavior, body build, and fitness in young adultho...
Article
In order to determine important predictors of psychosocial and physical vitality in late midlife, the authors examined the lives of 173 men prospectively studied from ages 18 to 65. Biopsychosocial predictors--gathered before age 50--were examined for their correlation with three outcome variables measured at age 65: physical health, mental health,...
Chapter
Suchtkrankheiten und ihre Behandlung stellen eine beunruhigende Herausforderung an die moderne Gesellschaft dar. Trotz jahrzehntelanger Forschung scheint die Wirksamkeit von Maßnahmen zur Rückfallprävention umstritten. Ein Beispiel: Zur gleichen Zeit, als in einer großangelegten amerikanischen Studie versichert wurde, daß die öffentlich finanzierte...
Article
This article reviews the treatment history of 100 hospital-treated heroin addicts and 100 hospital-treated alcohol-dependent individuals. The two cohorts were prospectively followed for 20 and 12 years respectively and factors related to relapse and freedom from relapse were sought. Premorbid social stability, especially stable employment history,...
Article
Six different models for assessing psychiatric impairment were applied to 188 men who had been studied prospectively for half a century. The six models were categorical DSM-III diagnosis by a senior psychiatrist; objective evidence of impairment in working and loving; relative maturity of ego mechanisms of defense; the Health Sickness Rating Scale;...

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