Adolescence (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
Sometimes referred to as teenage years, youth, or puberty, adolescence covers the period from roughly age 10 to 20 in a child's development.
In the study of child development, adolescence refers to the second decade of the life span, roughly from ages 10 to 20. The word adolescence is Latin in origin, derived from the verb adolescere, which means "to grow into adulthood." In all societies, adolescence is a time of growing up, of moving from the immaturity of childhood into the maturity of adulthood. Population projections indicate
that the percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 14 and 17 will peak around the year 2005.
There is no single event or boundary line that denotes the end of childhood or the beginning of adolescence. Rather, experts think of the passage from childhood into and through adolescence as composed of a set of transitions that unfold gradually and that touch upon many aspects of the individual's behavior, development, and relationships. These transitions are biological, cognitive, social, and...
(The entire section is 3281 words.)
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Adolescence (Encyclopedia of Children's Health)
Sometimes referred to as teenage years, youth, or puberty, adolescence is the transitional period between childhood and maturity, occurring roughly between the ages of 10 and 20.
The word adolescence is Latin in origin, derived from the verb adolescere, which means "to grow into adulthood." Adolescence is a time of moving from the immaturity of childhood into the maturity of adulthood. There is no single event or boundary line that denotes the end of childhood or the beginning of adolescence. Rather, experts think of the passage from childhood into and through adolescence as composed of a set of transitions that unfold gradually and that touch upon many aspects of the individual's behavior, development, and relationships. These transitions are biological, cognitive, social, and emotional.
The biological transition of adolescence, or puberty, is perhaps the most observable sign that adolescence has begun. Technically, puberty refers to the period during which an individual becomes capable of sexual reproduction. More broadly speaking, however, puberty is used as a collective term to refer to all the physical changes...
(The entire section is 2718 words.)
Adolescence (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
In psychoanalysis, adolescence is a developmental stage, a key moment during which three transformations occur: the disengagement from parental ties that have been interiorized since infancy; the sexual impulse discovering object love under the primacy of genital and orgasmic organizations; and identification, the impetus for topographic readjustment and the affirmation of identity and subjectivity. These transformations begin with the onset of adolescence, concluding when infantile sexual activity has reached its final form. Adolescence is, therefore, a completion of the process of ego maturation. It is characterized by the conflict that these transformations bring about and the ensuing crisis resulting from the wish for adult sexual activity and the fear of giving up infantile pleasure.
There is little discussion of the concept of adolescence in Freud's own writing. However, the term "puberty" is frequently found. More than two hundred and fifty references to the concept have been found in his work, even outside of the Minutes of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Referring to the Standard Edition, the majority of entries catalogued for the word "adolescence" are found in the Studies on Hysteria (1895d) and half of them are by Joseph Breuer. However, the references do not fully take into account linguistic issues and the associated problems of translation. For example, in the majority of French translations of Freud's work, there is frequent reference to the term "adolescence."
Although adolescents appear among the first cases of clinical psychoanalysis, such as that of Katharina, who was eighteen at the time, and especially that of Dora, most references to the role of puberty from the perspective of development appear in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d). In Some Reflections on Schoolboy Psychology, (1914f), a text that is often mentioned in connection with adolescence, the problem of growing up is presented by Freud as an extension of the oedipal complex. The schoolboys see their teachers as substitute parents. They transfer to them the ambivalence of the feelings they once had for their father. From this point of view, adolescence works toward a separation from the father.
Although adolescence in Freud and in subsequent psychoanalytic thought is often presented as an infantile screen-memory, that is, as the formation of a compromise between the repressed elements of infantile sexuality and the defenses typical of adolescence, it is also, through the theory of deferred action, an opportunity for new psychic activity, a kind of rebirth in which the past can only be understood in light of the present. Human history is understood in terms of its past, but its past is illuminated in terms of its present, and, in the case of adolescence, in terms of the traumatic present.
In fact, psychoanalysts have always had, whether manifestly or latently, a bipolar idea of adolescence. First, as the occasion of two instinctual currents through which the adolescent, burdened by the re-emergence of infantile impulses on the one hand and the discovery of orgasm (arising in adolescence) on the other, must confront oedipal conflicts, the now realizable threat of incest, and the parricidal and matricidal feelings as condensations in fantasy of the aggression associated with all growth: "growing up is by nature an aggressive act" (Donald Winnicott). Second, as an expression of the bipolarity of the ties between impulse and defense (Anna Freud), between identification and identity (Evelyne Kestemberg), between object libido and narcissistic libido (Philippe Jeammet), and between the "pubertary," which reflects the powerful sensual current that no longer recognizes its goals, and "adolescens," which reflects the category of the ideal (Philippe Gutton). This leads contemporary psychoanalysts to consider that the capacity of the psychic apparatus to perform the work of binding can be seen as a fundamental indicator of the fact that the process of adolescence has been harmoniously completed. Dreams and action represent the creative activities of this capacity (François Ladame) whereas unbinding (Raymond Cahn) is the source of serious psychic pathology. The enigmatic discrepancy between the bipolarity of the impulse and the transformational object (Alain Braconnier) constantly underlies the analysis of transference and counter-transference during adolescence.
There are other theorizations as well: Adolescence as a "crisis" (Pierre Mâle, Evelyne Kestemberg) or breakdown (Moses Laufer), as an impasse in the process of development, that is, in the integration of the sexualized body into the psychic apparatus. These approaches reveal the difficulties and resistances the subject experiences in giving up the forms of libidinal satisfaction in which his infantile body was engaged, difficulties and resistances that are manifest in the transference through the representation and acting out of the "central masturbation fantasy."
Although it is no longer psychoanalytically possible to consider adolescence in terms of a traditional genetic psychoanalytic psychology, that is, as the final stage of development that makes it possible to access an adult stage, it is still difficult to provide a comprehensive interpretation centered on any given aspect of adolescence. The psychic impact of puberty determines the remodeling of identification, the expression of fantasies, and self and object representations. The psychic impacts of the social and the cultural determine the alterations of these same intrapsychic elements, as well as presenting psychoanalysts with the problem of addressing the contradiction between a focus on external objects versus a focus on internal objects. From the point of view of psychoanalytic practice, the attention given to mental functioning, and to affects in particular, enables psychoanalysts to understand many of the disturbances found in adolescence in a way that broadens and extends the notion of crisis or the process of individuation, as well as their relationship to anxiety and, especially, depression. The concepts of "depressive threat" and "self-sabotage" help describe, clinically and theoretically, the process of change specific to the adolescent, whose pathology reveals the failures and avatars that are so magnificently exemplified in our culture through the heroic figures of Narcissus, Oedipus, Hamlet and Ophelia, Electra and Orestes, and, of course, Romeo and Juliet.
See also: Acting out/acting in; Adolescent crisis; Anorexia nervosa; Blos, Peter; Bulimia; Fairbairn, William Ronald Dodds; "Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria" (Dora/Ida Bauer); Genital love; Identification; Identity; Infantile schizophrenia; Mâle, Pierre; Puberty; Screen memory; Self-representation; Silberstein, Eduard; Suicidal behavior; Transgression; Young Girl's Diary, A.
Blos, Peter. (1987). L'insoumission au père ou l'effort adolescent pour être masculin. Adolescence, 6 (21), 19-31.
Cahn, Raymond. (1998). L'Adolescent dans la psychanalyse: l'aventure de la subjectivation. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Freud, Sigmund. (1905d). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. SE, 7: 130-243.
Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.
Jeammet, Philippe. (1994). Adolescence et processus de changement. In D. Widlöcher (Ed.) Traité de psychopathologie (pp. 687-726). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Laufer, Moses. (1989). Adolescence et rupture du développement: une perspective psychanalytique, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Blos, Peter. (1962). On adolescence. a psychoanalytic interpretation, New York: The Free Press of Glencoe.
. (1979). The adolescent passage: developmental issues, New York: International Universities Press.
Emde, Robert. (1985). From adolescence to midlife: remodeling the structure of adult development. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33(S), 59-112.
Esman, Aaron. (ed.) (1975). The psychology of adolescence, essential readings, New York: International Universities Press.
Hauser, Stuart T. and Smith, Henry F. (1991). The development and experience of affect in adolescence. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39(S), 131-168.
Novick, Kerry Kelly and Novick, Jack. (1994). Postoedipal transformations: latency, adolescence, pathogenesis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42,143-170.
Sarnoff, Charles. (1987). Psychotherapeutic strategies in late latency through early adolescence, Northvale, NJ: Aronson.