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Adolescence is traditionally seen as a time of turmoil and stress- is this inevitable?

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Adolescence is traditionally seen as a time of turmoil and stress- is this inevitable? Adolescence marks the transition between childhood and adulthood and involves many physical and psychological changes that may cause stress and turmoil. Hendry and Kloep ('99) proposed that adolescence is a time for several shifts to take place, shifts may be normative maturational, normative society-dependent or non normative such as parental divorce, family bereavement or illness. It may be the case that non-normative shifts make the transition particularly difficult to cope with and are more likely to result in stress and turmoil. In Western society adolescence serves as a moratorium, it delays adulthood to free the adolescent from responsibility to help the transition, whereas in some societies the transition occurs in an initiation ceremony. Hall (1904) proposed that each person's psychological development recapitulates both the biological and cultural evolution of human species and that this mirrors the volatile history of humans over the last two thousand years. This is the 'storm and stress' theory and would suggest that adolescence is inevitably a time of turmoil and stress. There is some evidence to suggest that adolescents have very intense and volatile emotions and other indicators of 'storm and stress' are mental disorder and delinquent behaviour. ...read more.


The teenage years are a time where the individual has the challenge of establishing their personal identity and finding their place in adult society. Erikson ('63) suggested that people go through genetically determined psychosocial stages, each stage is a struggle between two conflicting outcomes, one is adaptive and one is maladaptive. If an identity crisis is experienced this may cause the adolescent to experience turmoil and role confusion. The adolescent may fear commitment and intimacy because they do not want to lose their identity, may experience an inability to retain sense of time or channel themselves into work or study, may lack concentration or engage in abnormal or delinquent behaviours to try and resolve the crisis and this will create a negative identity. Erikson sees identity as a single goal, which the adolescent either achieves or fails to achieve, and he emphasises the importance of crisis. However, it is more likely that adolescence involves several transitions and goals and many people go through adolescence without appearing to experience crisis and do not become delinquent. Identity is also likely to be more complex than Erikson suggests. The suggestion that identity achievement is final is questionable- in our rapidly changing society there are increasing challenges to a stable identity and a person's identity may change. ...read more.


In some cultures there is no recognition of adolescence and young people are economically self sufficient by mid childhood and can marry and reproduce as soon as sexual maturity is reached. These children do not seem to have the same identity crisis as those in Western cultures because it is clear what is expected from them from an early age and they are treated as adults in the teenage years. In conclusion, the teenage years are necessary to allow a transition into adulthood, to develop identity and to go through puberty to become physically mature. These years are likely to cause some degree of stress due to the number of changes people must experience but most evidence would suggest that the claim that adolescence always causes stress and turmoil is greatly exaggerated and that in most cases adolescence is a relatively smooth transition. The extent to which a teenager feels stress or turmoil is largely dependent on individual, time and cultural differences. Stress and turmoil are more likely if the individual experiences non-normative shifts, if they grow up in a culture where the beginning of adulthood is unclear, if puberty occurs early or late or if they experience an identity crisis. It may also be the case that adolescents now experience a different amount of stress than in previous generations because teenagers tend to have more freedom to explore new identities than they used to. ...read more.

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