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Eighty-eight women in their early 50s described their most difficult time since college, the one that had most affected their subsequent lives. The age at occurrence and theme of the difficult times were related to each other, to gender role (whether or not the women were mothers), and to the self-system as assessed by similarity of each woman's California Q-sort description to Q-sort prototypes of ego-identity status. The themes of Independent Identity and its sequelae (Put-downs at work and Abandonment) were related to adequacy of ego identity and occurrence of difficult time between ages 36 and 46. California Psychological Inventory and other data from the women at ages 27, 43, and 52 helped to explain why “rewriting of the life story” tended to occur around age 40. Work by feminist literary critics is used for additional perspective.