Articles

The Retirement Syndrome: The Psychology of Letting Go (2003)

Manfred Kets de Vries

"The retirement syndrome & challenges of letting go"

This article analyses a problem that can be described as the retirement syndrome. In exploring the difficulties many leaders face in letting go at the end of a full career, it reviews a number of the barriers to exit: financial, social, and psychological. It looks at the physical and psychological effects of aging, in the context of retirement; examines the experience of nothingness that single-minded careerists often feel after retirement; describes the talion principle, a subliminal fear of reprisals; and discusses the edifice complex, the wish to leave behind a legacy. The article concludes with suggestions as to how individuals and organisations can develop more effective and humane disengagement strategies.

 

European Management Journal, 2003

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