While some of the more skeptical people out there won’t even accept the underlying idea of the forever 27 club, others seek theories and concepts to try to explain it. After all, if you don’t think there’s any significance to the fact that many musicians and musical celebrities died in their 27th year, then there’s no need to explain anything. But for those of us who see a pattern, the temptation to come up with a reasonable explanation is nearly overwhelming. We need to know why something like this could happen, and what if anything it might mean. One of the more level-headed ways to look at the phenomenon is the arrested development theory.
Developmental psychology has become well-known for many reasons, and the phrase “arrested development” has been burned into our psyches. The idea that humans grow and move through stages in the course of a lifetime has become a standard concept of pop psychology, and most people have a vague notion of what it means. We have heard about infancy, early childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and old age. We know some of the issues and problems associated with each of these human phases. Interestingly, the age of 27 lands squarely in the middle of the “young adult” stage of human development, so is there anything we can learn and apply to the forever 27 club members?
According to standard developmental psychology, the young adult phase is extremely important. After passing through the earlier stages a person has to learn the correct way to have relationships that have intimacy at their core. These relations include romantic couplings as well as casual and serious friendships. If the earlier stages have not been traversed successfully (development has been arrested or stopped), then the chances of learning how to be close to others at the right time are not good, and the consequences can be severe. A healthy sense of individuality and identity, and the ability to trust others need to be learned in adolescence. If these skills are not developed, human beings can be unable to depend on other people, be afraid of commitment, can feel isolated and alone, and become alienated. Unable to have healthy and mature relationships, they act out, abuse themselves and substances, and become depressed. The are at risk for suicide and destructive behaviors, and tend to hurt those they do become close to – perfect prescription for death at 27.
Developmental delays during the adolescent stage may be caused by early and premature stardom, or a destructive lifestyle if stardom hasn’t been achieved but is being emulated in an unhealthy manner. Obviously, many young adults make it through this phase, some successfully and some scarred but surviving. Those that don’t pass through sometimes die, and some of them die at the prime age of 27. Others may be a bit older or younger – the almost 27s – but still succumb to the problems of arrested development at a critical age.
Clearly there is a gaping logical hole in this explanatory theory of the forever 27 club. We can understand why they may self-destruct, but why do tragic accidents happen to these young people? Is there some kind of cosmic law that if normal development doesn’t occur, negative forces are drawn and the person becomes at risk for bad things to happen? Of course we can only speculate, but it appears that there is not one explanation for all the cases of membership in the forever 27 club, but several, and all of them may act in combination or alone to cause the phenomenon. Stay tuned…
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