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Adolescence According To Erikson Essay

995 words - 4 pages

"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 identity only when reinforced by drugs which help to dull diffuse guilt....And the consequence is not greater freedom in informed permissiveness but an inability to personify and to convey to others any ethics except that of making a variety of role adjustments instead of a single one." (74, pp 107-108)Erikson then draws this conclusion:"...I think that recent developments in our national life such as the sudden shift of attention from military atrocity in foreign lands to political scandal at home, and then the dramatic public display of individuals responsible for or caught in such scandal, should leave no doubt about the psychological relationships...that between the repression of inner conflict in those who over adjust to power, the suppression of adversary opinions, and the ready oppression of foreign people. May we learn to keep this interrelatedness in full view, and not be distracted by what satisfies vindictiveness or self-vindication most sensationally at the given "point in time." (74, p 111)This tendency to adjust to external events, rather than operating with a strong sense of...

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