‘Growing old’ is an essay by the late Dr John Ellard reproduced from the book The Anatomy of Mirages: a Psychiatrist Reflects on Life and the Mind.*
Dr Ellard, revered former Editor of Modern Medicine of Australia and Medicine Today and a distinguished psychiatrist, wrote many essays in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s on society’s most controversial and vexing issues. These were published in various journals including Modern Medicine of Australia, and also collected together and published as books. The essay ‘Growing old’ originally appeared in the February 1988 issue of Modern Medicine of Australia.
* Ellard J. The anatomy of mirages: a psychiatrist reflects on life and the mind. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press; 1994. p. 106-116.
Growing old is a luxury which was not available to mankind until recently. Even now one needs to be cautious about the country of one’s birth and the choice of one’s parents. Popular beliefs about old age have not kept pace with the change, and unhappy misconceptions abound. Sooner or later we must think about it, and I am doing so now. ‘Old age is the most unexpected of all things that happen to a man.'
– Leon Trotsky, ‘Diary in Exile’, 1935
Picture credit: © Barry Olive, 2017