INTERNATIONAL CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK
19 SEPTEMBER 2001
A report from Karachi reminds us that all over the world, social, parental or familial developmental interference, peer pressure and collective traumatic experiences may lead to "adolescent turmoil" among youths during the period of adolescence.
Social pressures lead to adolescent rage
"Adolescence is an important period in the growth and development of an individual. Psychologically, this transient, stormy period of growth is vital in transforming a child into an adult. Ironically, in our society, this phase of life is often pathetically dealt with both by parents, other adults of the family and teachers," said Dr Furkan Ahmed of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital on Sunday.
He said that adolescence demands commitment simultaneously to deal with competition, physical intimacy and psychosocial definition.
Dr Furkan Ahmed said that understanding adolescence is absolutely vital for parents and teachers, who are naturally in close contact with adolescents. The natural attempts of an adolescent to break the ties that impede his/her efforts towards further growth and development must be understood by adults.
The defence an adolescent uses to break away from parents and parental figures is essential in the development of his/her "ego identity." Identity formation arises from repudiation of childhood identifications and the assumption of new configuration with both internal and societal recognitions.
Adolescence is characterized by considerable physical, emotional and social changes. It is a definite phase of the growth process, though the manifestations may vary in different societies. Modern lifestyle with particular emphasis on higher education and specialization has continued dependence on parents and hence lengthened adolescence.
Dr Ahmed said that Henderson et al, an international NGO, report said that approximately 9 per cent of students have emotional disturbances, labelled as adjustment reactions of childhood.
Adolescents are more or less independent, but social pressures tend to keep them in a dependent position. Latter adolescence, the period from 15-18 years, is also the time when an individual attains a sense of personal identity - a fact not stressed enough.
"Under fortunate conditions, the physical appearance and personality that develop are satisfying to the individual and accepted by those around. But quite often, a sudden upsurge of physical growth makes adolescents very sensitive, shy and physically awkward. Growing a beard, the change of voice in boys, changes in body curvature, or appearance of acne in girls can be particularly very upsetting," Dr Furkan Ahmed disclosed.
"During adolescence, relationships become much more complicated. Things in life do not seem black or white, the greys creep in," a young girl tortured by her inter-personal conflicts quite aptly remarked.
Emotions seem to fluctuate like a pendulum. Grief and remorse may be intense that it may be expressed as "I died a thousand deaths" moodiness at adolescence is well-known.
An adolescent trying to consolidate the newly-growing self has to exert him/her views. Often, they refuse to accept without criticism the version of the world the adults give them.
Dr Furkan said that the adolescent has some importance tasks - for instance, modification of unconscious concepts of parents' moral standards, identification and selection of career - choices that must be resolved before a potential adult can achieve a character-logical synthesis. This synthesis results from the correct establishment of identification and reformation of self-concept and values, encouraging further growth and development.
Adolescence demands commitment simultaneously to deal with competition, physical intimacy and psycho-social definition. These inner demands give the youth a sense of isolation and inner emptiness, an inability to achieve a relationship, a distorted sense of time resulting in a sense of great urgency, an inability to make decisions, etc.
Usually, the physical and psychological concomitant are dealt with understanding by most families and fairly realistically by the adolescent himself. It concludes that adolescent turmoil is only one routine for passing through adolescence; compare this disturbed group with those adolescents whose development is continuous and undisturbed. The antecedent of the non-turmoil path is believed to be a non-stressful childhood, with maximum development opportunities.
Environmental stress affects adolescent and may lead to "adolescent turmoil". Among these conditions, research particularly mentions parental of familial developmental interferences, social developmental interferences, peer-group pressure and collective traumatic experiences," Dr Furkan added.
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