Adolescence: Psychosocial Perspectives

Adolescence: Psychosocial Perspectives

Adolescence: Psychosocial Perspectives

Adolescence: Psychosocial Perspectives

Excerpt

Throughout history many generations have seen themselves living in an Age of Anxiety, and their writers have longed nostalgically for the "good old days" when problems were simpler and the future was predictable. Adults laboriously work out ways of grappling with the challenges of their time, but their children usually do not participate in nor realize the nature of their parents' struggles. Fathers bequeath to sons their patterns of coping, but although these may have been appropriate to the problems of the past, historical change leads to a new crop of stresses and challenges for which the old methods are not suitable. In fact, each generation must work out its own salvation and is helped by the traditions of its predecessors only insofar as the rate of situational change is minimal. Whenever social and technological change accelerates, the gap between the generations increases, and each succeeding generation is involved in the anxiety-inducing process of basic innovation.

This is especially marked in our own time. Whether or not we can validly say, as has so often been said before, that there has never in history been a time of such dramatic change, it is clear that recent developments in communication, transportation, and energy production, together with the major economic, social, and political consequences of increasing populations and productivity, have led to revolutionary changes. These confront us with many life problems fundamentally different from those of our fathers. In the Western world these changes have had some consequences for our infants and small children, whose lives, however, are largely protected within the family circle. They do impinge directly on the adults. We experience the strain of having to adjust constantly to novel situations, but at least we feel that we are playing a more or less active part in shaping the new world. The greatest impact of these changes is on the adolescent population, which in our time must make the huge leap from a relatively unchanged world of childhood to our very complex new adult world, in whose making they were not involved. We provide them with few guidelines and dependable role models, because we have as yet no clear answers to our own problems, especially the sociopolitical and ethical consequences of our technological revolution.

This situation is complicated by the fact that as participants in an evolving culture we adults have continually been adjusting to a succession of changes. We have developed selective perceptual distortions and ways of . . .

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