Clintons' success forces boomers to take stock

March 03, 1993|By Orange County Register

Call it the Clinton complex.

Baby-boomer women who are trying to combine marriage, family and career look at the stunningly successful Hillary Rodham Clinton and wonder: "Why not me?"

And men who believe that by their 30s or 40s they should have "made it," ponder a 46-year-old in the Oval Office and take a harsh look at their own accomplishments.

Will Hillary and Bill inaugurate a national midlife crisis?

"Yes," says psychologist Ellen McGrath of Laguna Beach and New York. "They're the epitome of our dreams and fantasies. But hTC they also remind us of all that we'renot."

Ms. McGrath, a specialist in depression, believes that as boomers compare their success and come up short, their natural reaction will be to look for faults in the Clintons.

It used to be that a person was considered middle-aged after 30. But the benchmark for midlife keeps rising, partly because people are living so long.

Patients no longer have their midlife crises between 35 and 45, said psychologist Toni Bernay of Beverly Hills, who specializes in midlife crises. Now, they fall apart between 45 and 55.

Denver psychologist Gary Toub, an authority on the male midlife crisis, also cautions that the public is seeing an idealized image of the Clintons.

"They represent a standard of what success would look like, but it's misleading, because it doesn't respect the individual path," he said.

"If you look inside and you're not happy, you can change that. It's not good to measure yourself against somebody else."

But that doesn't comfort Lauren Howell, 33, a receptionist and aspiring actress from Laguna Beach.

"The Clintons are very passionate and focused," she said. "It would have been kind of nice by now to be accomplished instead of just being good. Those little demons drive you crazy -- the demons that ask: Why aren't you doing this and why aren't you doing that?"

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