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Chapter 1. Psychoanalytic Assessment of Young Adults

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

Psychoanalytic assessment of the personalities of young adults implies the study of certain intrapsychic states which are taken up in this chapter in terms of clinical and developmental issues (Rapaport and Gill, 1959). Assessment of young adults by the psychoanalytic method must, first of all, take into account how well any individual has succeeded in negotiating and working through the phase-specific tasks and conflicts associated with late adolescence (Spiegel, 1961; Adatto, 1980), and by inference all previous phases of development (Bios, 1962). Transition from late adolescence to young adulthood (Eisenstadt, 1956; Block with N. Haan, 1971; Vaillant, 1977; Levinson, Arrow, Klein, Levinson, and McGee, 1978; Arnstein, 1989) may be a relatively continuous, unconflicted growth process (Offer and Offer, 1975), or mark identity achievement status (Marcia, 1980; Holland, 1985; Josselson, 1989). My clinical experience with late adolescents and young adults suggests that most, if not all, are concerned with phase specific tasks, which often become involved in conflict that in turn produces clinically observable symptoms. It is true my clinical observations are derived from a skewed patient population, but my observation of nonpatient populations (including my children, those of my colleagues, and close friends) is that similar issues arise in nonclinical instances with more or less frequent if transient symptom formation.

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Chapter 9. Summary and Conclusions

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

The period of life called young adulthood is coterminal with the ending of adolescence and the age group under consideration ranges from 18 years to the early thirties. These young people are in college, graduate school, or already in the workforce. In my opinion, young adulthood is the most exciting of all phases of development, particularly so, when it is contrasted with the hormonal/ physiological and psychological changes that dominate the beginning of the adolescent and pubertal period. What is so exciting is the fact the personalities of young adult people are in flux and engaged in a dynamic process of psychological consolidation. Physical maturation has been completed. The monumental developmental tasks of integration, synthesis, and cohesion of multiple areas of the personality result in a strikingly observable “setding down” into a chosen career, searching for and finding a suitable partner with whom to achieve physical and emotional intimacy, mastery of the drives, fitting in with a social group identity, and the consequent establishment of clearly defined sexual and gender identities. Most young people learn to master and negotiate these tasks and successfully manipulate the external world more or less to their advantage. These psychological processes occur in the context of a complex physiological and bidirectional sociological milieu that Engel (1977) originally termed the bi-opsychosocial model of human behavioral interactions. To appraise the depth and extent of these personality developments, the modern clinician must be armed with an extensive array of psychoanalytically informed tools. But before any evaluation of this period can be intelligendy achieved, all prior developmental phase specific tasks must be thoroughly investigated. Also, it must be remembered people mature physically, develop psychologically, and relate socially at widely different rates. The “late-bloomers” are familiar to educators, parents, and friends alike as well as the precociously gifted ones who appear grown-up beyond their years. Youthful idealism that revolutionized American culture in the 1960s can be understood not only in terms of high energy levels, but also in terms of a significant restructuring of the superegos and ego ideals. Today’s youth may not be as caught up in the same kind of revolutionary zeal, but they nevertheless undergo radical changes internally and exert an impact on society as a whole. There is a freeing up of narcissistic energies that provides easier access to creative talents in the arts and sciences. Perceptual and intellectual competencies are much freer of conflict so that intellectual study and formal operations are now more than ever possible for them to make significant contributions. In a word, the modern youth is transformed into at best a delightful, creative, intellectual, and seriously disciplined person. The educational environment promotes emotional, intellectual, and linguistic skills. From a sociological perspective, peers, professors, and siblings add a significantly rich menu of stimulation. In fact, young adults often report that certain professors and mentors were crucially important in their overall development, choice of a career, and a lifelong friendship so that young adults learn to cope and adapt to new circumstances. Cognitive development proceeds from lower levels of abstract thinking to postformal operations. Vygotsky’s (1981) theories concerning the semiotic function of the educational environment and the use of language and symbolic thinking processes add significantly to the development of youth.

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Chapter 5. The Fate of Don Juan: The Myth and the Man

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

Nature has placed but one law in my bosom, to do
nothing but what pleases me [Maetzu, 1938, p. 202].

This chapter will contain a discussion of late adolescent and young adult character development (Deutsch, 1965) in certain individuals whose behavior is reminiscent of the dramatic and mythic character of Don Juan Tenorio, whose motives for control and power over others, as manifest in his sexual exploits, are legendary (e.g., Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni). The three important motivations of late adolescence, mastery of sexuality, acquisition of power over others, and interest in accumulating money, certainly flower in adolescence and young adulthood. Motives such as these are less obvious than the externally more visible pubertal and maturational (physiological) changes of adolescence or the cognitive and intellectual changes, but they are nevertheless very important. Of these three, power and control or dominance over others have been sorely neglected in recent psychoanalytic literature.

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Chapter 2. Identity

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Etymologically, the word identity is derived from the Latin idem and the suffix tas or tratem. The noun expresses “the quality or condition of being the same in substance, composition, nature, properties, or in particular qualities under consideration; absolute or essential sameness; oneness” {Compact Oxford English Dictionary).

The concept of identity in psychoanalysis has been neglected in recent years (Gray, 1990), and remains unintegrated into the main body of psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice. Erikson (1956) popularized identity as a psychosocial and developmental term—identity crises and identity diffusion-to describe occurrences in late adolescents and young adults. These problems commonly occur late in the college career, after graduation, or for those who entered business without attending college or technical school when career choice and sexual object choice are experienced as overwhelming developmental tasks. Parent loss and other traumatic overstimulating, abusive experiences in childhood, whether sexual or physical, are risk factors leading to vertical splitting in the ego that in turn gives rise to clinically observable splits in identity (Shengold, 1980). The phase specific task of this transitional period of development, according to Erikson’s life cycle schemata (1959), is intimacy versus isolation; for example, when some young people are so frightened by the prospect of initiating intimacy that they withdraw from normal socializing with others, while others’ efforts to socialize result in repeated failure and lead to increasing disappointment and disillusionment. For Erikson (1982) identity formation is:

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Chapter 3. Gender and Sexual Identity

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

The terms gender identity and sexual identity in the psychoanalytic literature are confusing at best, but the definitions in Money and Ehrhardt’s (1972) classic book Man and Woman Boy and Girl are helpful and elegant in their simplicity. They speak of psychosexual differentiation beginning with the prenatal period of embryonic development and continuing throughout the postnatal period of social and psychological development. They emphasize the theme of a complex interaction of hormones, chromosomes, genes, and environmental influences. Their emphasis on their experience with hermaphrodites and pseudohermaphrodites, and the presence of a suitable penis to guide them in making decisions about sex reassignment, has been seriously questioned by Diamond and Sigmundson’s (1997) long-term review of the case of a boy as well as by an editorial (Reiner, 1997). Gender identity is defined by Money and Ehrhardt “as the sameness, unity, and persistence of one’s individuality as male or female (or ambivalent) in greater or lesser degree, especially as it is experienced in self awareness of behavior. Gender identity is the private experience of gender role and gender role is the public expression of gender identity” (p. 284). In Zucker and Bradley’s (1995) experience, gender identity is taken very seriously by preschoolers in their affective responses to questions if they belong to the opposite sex. Gender disorders in children, usually males, often lead to adolescent and young adult homosexuality. In special cases, psychoanalytic therapeutic intervention can felicitously transform this trajectory from a gay orientation into a solid heterosexual one (Greenson, 1966; Haber, 1991). Most researchers in this area, including Tyson (1998), use a model consisting of gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation. Gender role refers to ‘ ‘behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits that a society, in a given culture and historical period, designates as masculine or feminine social role” (Zucker and Bradley, 1995, p. 3). This includes in young children same-sex versus opposite-sex affiliative preference behavior, “fantasy roles, toy interests, dress-up play, and interest in rough-and-tumble play” (Zucker and Bradley, 1995, p. 3). Sexual orientation refers to how a person responds to sexual stimuli.

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