The Effect of Suffering on Generativity: Accounts of Elderly African American Men

Jefferson Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health, Thomas Jefferson University, 130 South 9th Street, Suite 515, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Impact Factor: 3.21). 02/2009; 64(2):296-303. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbn012
Source: PubMed


This article focuses on attitudes to and behaviors of generativity in 6 older African American (AA) men.
Data on generativity emerged from in-depth qualitative research that explored experiences of suffering in community-dwelling persons aged 80 years and over.
For these AA men, experiences of racism were salient in stories of suffering, and suffering was intricately related to attitudes and behaviors of generativity. We placed men's narratives, showing the link between suffering and generativity, in 3 categories: Generativity is rooted in (a) suffering and in empathy for suffering others, (b) experiences of redemption from suffering, and (c) religious belief that assuages suffering.
These AA men's generative behaviors were shaped by unique life experiences, including experiences of suffering. Bequeathing a legacy to succeeding generations was tied to suffering experiences, to the personal and communal identities that emerged from suffering, to the importance of inter- and intragenerational community, and to what men believed others needed from them.


Available from: Helen K Black, Aug 27, 2014
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