10 Chapters
Medium 9781855754515

Chapter 7: on being„and being allowed to be„immature

Rose, James Karnac Books ePub

In the first chapter of this book, Donald Winnicott was quoted as saying:

What I am writing here (dogmatically in order to be brief) is that the adolescent is immature. Immaturity is an essential element of health at adolescence. There is only one cure for immaturity and that is the passage of time and the growth into maturity that time may bring.

Immaturity is a precious part of the adolescent scene. In this is contained the most exciting features of creative thought, new and fresh feeling, ideas for new living. Society needs to be shaken by the aspirations of those who are not responsible. If the adults abdicate, the adolescent becomes prematurely, and by false process, adult. Advice to society could be: for the sake of adolescents, and of their immaturity, do not allow them to step up and attain a false maturity by handing over to them a responsibility that is not yet theirs, even though they may fight for it. [Winnicott, 1968]

These words can easily be misunderstood, and this usually happens because of the mindset of the reader. When Winnicott says that there is only one cure for immaturity, he might be thought to mean that we must accept that we cannot intervene in or accelerate a process, which will proceed in its own time. The metaphor of laying down wine in the cellar and leaving it to mature undisturbed might come to mind.

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Chapter 4: identity and peer groups: fashion and “youth culture”

Rose, James Karnac Books ePub

We have already seen how young adolescents have to cope with a sense of a new body and how they incorporate this new body into a sense of themselves. This process inevitably alters their relationship with their parents and families. There is a way in which they seem to grow away from their families and want to be as unlike them as they can be. As an expression of this movement, images of adolescent icons abound in the media—often with an apparent intention to shock the older generation.

Compare the images shown here with the description by Anna Freud of the arrival of adolescence:

Whereas the latency child (approximately five to eleven, twelve years) had begun to show definite and well-circumscribed character and personality traits, the pre-adolescent (approximately eleven, twelve to fourteen years) is once more unpredictable. Where the latency child has become modest, reasonable and well-mannered with regard to food, the pre-adolescent reacts with greed and demanding-ness; insatiableness in pre-adolescence frequently leads to thefts of food and sweets. Similar changes occur in almost all the spheres of the child's life. Pre-adolescent boys in particular are known to be dirty in their lavatory habits and negligent in their clothing. Cruel and bullying actions are regular occurrences; so are mutual masturbation, the seduction of younger children, and sexual compliance towards older playmates; destructive acts, thefts and robberies are carried out alone or in company with others. Within the family the preadolescent causes disharmony by his selfishness and inconsiderateness; in school he is frequently in trouble because of his lack of interest in the school subjects, his inability to concentrate, his ir-responsibleness and insubordination. In short, the whole promising process of adaptation to the environment seems to have stopped short. What parents and teachers are confronted with is once again the full, undiminished impact of the instinctual forces within the child. [A. Freud, 1949; emphasis added]

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Chapter 8: on bullying and being bullied

Rose, James Karnac Books ePub

Being bullied is one of the most common causes of human unhappiness and can occur at any time of life. The mid-adolescent is especially prone, because this is a time in life when a mature character is not yet formed. Every day adolescents meet up with their equally immature peers in settings that are intrinsically competitive in terms of pecking orders and territory. If we remember the constant confrontations between the young men of the Montague and Capulet families in fourteenth-century Verona as depicted in Romeo and Juliet, we can get a context for the situations in which bullying can occur.

Not for nothing does the Jets’ song in West Side Story go as follows:

When you're a Jet,
You're a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette
To your last dyin’ day.

When you're a Jet,
If the spit hits the fan,
You got brothers around,
You're a family man!

You're never alone,
You're never disconnected!
You're home with your own:
When company's expected,
You're well protected!

Then you are set With a capital J,
Which you'll never forget
Till they cart you away.
When you're a Jet,
You stay a Jet!

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Chapter 3: sexual development: having sex, having intercourse, and making love

Rose, James Karnac Books ePub

We have already noted that, for the individual adolescent, puberty “turns up” at some time between the ages of 10 and 16. We might say that the arrival of puberty is the business of early adolescence, regardless of the chronological age at which it actually arrives. The business of mid-adolescence is the commencement of the process of absorbing the emotional consequences of the physiological changes that occur.

The change in the physiological body, entailing it now being sexually mature and capable of reproduction, is a momentous change in its psychological impact and its impact upon others. Because the body now looks different, people can easily expect the newly changed young person to be different. Different they will, of course, be—but not necessarily in the way that is expected. We can say that the task of early adolescence is to accept this new potency, and that of mid-adolescence is incorporate it into a new way of being with oneself and, in turn, being with others. This is partly because others will expect new things of the mid-adolescent. The title of this chapter is intended to summarize the tasks of sexual organization during adolescence, beginning with recognition that the young person is capable of having sex, but this is not seen as being something in which one engages with another person. One might say that it is thought of as an activity—at its most primitive—in which one engages with another person as a body, but the person of the other is not significant. The idea of intercourse introduces the idea of being with another person, and being sexual has a psychological significance as well as a physical one.

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Chapter 2: emotional and intellectual development: Romeo and Juliet

Rose, James Karnac Books ePub

Considerable intellectual and emotional development occurs during the mid-adolescent years. John Santrock (1999) recalled an adolescent once saying, in a thoughtful way:

“I began thinking about why I was thinking what I was. Then I began thinking about why I was thinking about why I was thinking about what I was.”

This reflection on the process of thinking is an example of the new powers of thought that adolescents begin to develop. Quite why this happens is not known precisely, but we can link its emergence to other new developments during the early teen years. At first sight it would seem that this adolescent is now capable of being within himself and standing outside himself at the same time, with the result that his subjective experience is not totally dominated by what he can see from his own point of view: the potential is there to be able to see the world from others’ points of view as well. In itself, this is not a new achievement at this age. This ability can easily collapse under the pressure of powerful feelings—particularly powerful feelings towards others, which can seem to the individual and those around them to be like a kind of paranoia. What is important in understanding mid-adolescents is being aware of the upsurge of powerful feelings towards others and how far they can maintain an ability to think about themselves instead of impulsively launching into action. When they cannot, the likelihood is that others will feel the effects.

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