Overview, Historical Background and Theoretical Perspectives Overview and Background
Adolescence is a developmental transition between childhood and adulthood. It is the period from puberty until full adult status has been attained. In our society, adolescence is a luxury. It is reported that the real reason there is the developmental period of adolescence was to delay young people from going into the workforce, due to the scarcity of jobs. There are also varying views on the actual time line of adolescence-especially about when it ends. Typically, we view adolescence beginning at puberty and ending at 18 or 21 years. Others suggest that there is a period of late adolescence that extends well into what is now known as the period of young adulthood.
G. Stanley Hall's Biogenetic Psychology of Adolescence
G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924), was the first psychologist to advance a psychology of adolescence in its own right and to use scientific methods to study them. He defined this period to begin at puberty at about 12 or 13 years, and end late, between 22 years to 25 years of age. Hall also described adolescence as a period of Sturm und Drang," -- storm and stress." In German literature, the period of sturm und drang includes the works of Schiller and the early writings of Goethe. It is a literary movement full of idealism, commitment to a goal, revolution against the old, expression of personal feelings, passion and suffering. Hall saw an analogy between the objectives of this group of young writers at the turn of the eighteenth century and the psychological characteristics of adolescence. According to Hall's analogy and expansion of Darwin's concept of biological "evolution." into a psychological theory of recapitulation, adolescence corresponds to a time when the human race was in a turbulent transitional stage. (Muuss, 1975, pp.33-35) In this theory, Hall stated that the experiential history of the human species had become part of the genetic structure of each individual. The law of recapitulation claimed that the individual organism, during its development passes through states that correspond to those that occurred during the history of mankind. To sum up, the individual relives the development of the human race from early animal like primitivism, through a period of savagery, to the more recent civilized ways of life that characterize maturity. (Muuss, 1975, p. 33) Therefore, Hall described adolescence as a new birth, "for the higher and more completely human traits are now born" (Hall, 1916, xiii).
Hall describes this particular aspect of adolescent development (storm and stress) in detail in a chapter of his book on adolescence --"Feelings and Psychic Evolution." He saw the emotional life of the adolescent as an oscillation between contradictory tendencies. Energy, exaltation, and supernatural activity are followed by indifference, lethargy, and loathing. Exuberant gaiety, laughter, and euphoria make place for dysphoria. depressive gloom, and melancholy. Egoism, vanity, and conceit are just as characteristic of this period of life as are abasement, humiliation, and bashfulness. Hall believed that adolescent characteristics contained both the remnants of an uninhibited childish selfishness and an increasing idealistic altruism. The qualities of goodness and virtue are never so pure, but never again does temptation preoccupy the adolescent's thinking. Hall described the adolescenct as wanting solitude and seclusion, while he finds himself entangled in crushes and friendships. Never again does the peer group have such a strong influence over the person. The adolescent also moves between the exhibition of several personality traits including exquisite sensitivity and tenderness at some points in time to callousness and cruelty at other times. The display of apathy and inertia also vacillate with enthusiastic curiosity, along with the urge to discover and explore. According...