Adolescence according to Erikson

Essay by krisspsUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

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"Adolescence is the age of the final establishment of a dominant positive ego identity. It is then that a future within reach becomes part of the conscious life plan." (Erikson, 63, p306)

Adolescence is the turning point. In Greek, it is the moment after which the future is redirected and confirmed. It would seem reasonable that much thought would be given to how to use this critical period to reinforce the positive self-image so important for growth. Rather many parents, teachers, and clergy are unprepared to help guide these budding personalities. Ignorant or apathetic or in dread of this confusing, rebellious stage, techniques are used to "deal with" teens that usually fail to maximize the tremendous potential adolescence offers.

Various researchers and scholars, including Erik Erikson, have marked adolescence as a critical period, if not the most critical period in human development--the fork in the road which forever shapes an individual's, and mankind's, destiny.

Indeed, social scientists argue that our societies ultimately mirror the results of the adolescent development process.

Erik Erikson discusses the importance of adolescent development to society--especially, the tendency for societies to operate without a central ethos, to "go with the flow":

"What is described as a Protean personality today may, in fact, be an attempt on the part of adolescent personalities--and America has always cultivated them--to adjust to overwhelming change by a stance of deliberate changeability, of maintaining the initiative by playing at change so as to stay ahead of the game...Those who are gifted in this game, and, therefore, truly playful in it, may with luck make it an essential part of their identity formation and find a new sense of centrality and originality in the flux of our time....No wonder that the playing out of these...roles can often give a fleeting sense of...