Adolescence as a Time of Storm and Stress

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Conflict during adolescence, including storm and stress, and alternative views

Stanley Hall (1904) one of the founders of developmental psychology, suggested that adolescence is a time of personal ‘storm and stress’ during which the child must experience the turbulent history of the human race in order to reach maturity. This was very influential in later psychological research and popular culture. The implications of Erikson’s (1980) theory of psychosocial development portray adolescence as a period of ‘storm and stress’ as adolescents experience role confusion as they try out different roles in attempting to establish a sense of identity. The formation of an identity is vitally important as it enables the individual to cope well with the demands of life and to form adult relationships. If this crisis is not resolved then a lack of identity (or role confusion) results which can lead to four kinds of behaviour. 1. Negative identity- an extreme identity is adopted e.g. taking on the role of a delinquent or drug abuser. Since a more functional role cannot be found, ‘a negative role identity is better than no identity.’ 2. Intimacy- intimate relationships are avoided in case their own fragile sense of identity is lost. Stereotyped or inappropriate relationships result or isolation may be preferred. 3. Time perspectives – making plans for the future is avoided because this would involve thinking about the future and the complexities of being an adult; this leads to feelings of anxiety. 4. Industry- difficulty getting their level of ‘industry’ right. Compulsive overworking (perhaps at one activity to the exclusion of all others) or a difficulty concentrating.

This is the idea of a psychosocial moratorium which is a temporary suspension of activity. These four behaviours are negatively intense and therefore support the view that adolescence is a time of ‘storm and stress’.

Marcia sees an identity crisis as a necessary stage in order to...
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