That is a picture of G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924). He was an American psychologist who I think we have to thank inserting the "storm and stress" version of adolescence into the American discourse on human development. I'm kinda irritated with him, which is probably unfair. I think the idea of adolescence as a time of risky behavior, conflict with your parents, and moodiness is a well-loved script now, even if it professionally fell out of favor because it doesn't affect everyone (or even most people) within society or across cultures. Erik Erikson, another psychologist, and/or a misinterpretation of his work also contribute to the broadcast US society's role for adolescents. You've heard the phrase "identity crisis?" That's his. I wished he used a different word. Crisis seems so loaded. Thank you psychoanalytic theory. For some reason, now it sounds like someone is going to burst in two or feel like crap and completely fall apart, though I don't think that was what Erikson was going for.
|Identity Crisis: When you speak another language?|
I'm about to start my PSY 324 Lifespan II class. I start by asking students what they already know about adolescence, adulthood, and older adulthood. Their answers are really freaking predictable. We've all absorbed media-supported, G. Stanley Hall and Erikson inspired folk beliefs (which can conveniently be used to get you to purchase things). What kills me every time is how much people seem to love those ideas. But hey, a period of time where you are sort of aimless, enjoying partying, don't have to really figure out what you need/want to do... maybe that sounds good. Yet the price of that idea is that you aren't responsible or mature, and you are not to be taken seriously. So, why did you take out those students loans? If people needed 4 years of experience in the world, surely there are cheaper ways of getting that then paying for college and goofing off. Perhaps this seems harsh and unfair, but non-trad and trads know these scripts. Sometimes they happily identify with them or sheepishly. Other times they resent the implications.
|Thank you Hollywood. (That was sarcasm.)|
Don't confuse having lots of options and opportunities with not knowing who you are. Don't confuse disagreeing with other people as aimless "conflict with authority figures." Definitely don't dismiss your feelings as moodiness. Go ahead and wrestle with ideas and possibilities and your feelings. That is probably part of the life the whole way through. [Of course, if you're not leaving your room and shutting down that's a problem.]
Another crappy side-effect of the synergy of poorly applied developmental psych and consumerism is that adulthood is becoming something to be avoided or disdained. That is a useful script for some people... Now that the problem has been created you can be sold the solution.
|Here you go men! Apparently you too should plastic well into your... 30s and 40s...|
|Is this just adulthood? Or adulthood in a certain society at a certain time in history?|
|Meet Barbara Beskind. She says "Embrace change and design for it."|