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Astor, J. (1988). Adolescent States of Mind Found in Patients of Different Ages Seen in Analysis. J. Child Psychother., 14(1):67-80.

(1988). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 14(1):67-80

Adolescent States of Mind Found in Patients of Different Ages Seen in Analysis

James Astor


In writing about adolescence as a state of mind I am following the analytic tradition of thinking of the term as a reference point for not just a social structure, i.e. an adolescent world, but for a social structure in the mind and in that sense the term is technical and metapsychological. In the clinical material that follows I shall present four different examples of the state of mind that is adolescent in quality. The material is drawn from patients of different ages that I do see and have seen regularly for analysis. Adolescence is a state of mind not particular in our culture to an age group and the chief characteristic of adolescence is the sense of fluidity that surrounds the feelings of identity. This is managed within the adolescent social group. The first clinical description is of a boy who is profoundly troubled by feelings of unreality and confusion, a boy who has become an isolated young man stumbling in a world where hypocrisy is indistinguishable from insincerity. The second description is briefer and focuses on an aspect of the adolescent group mentality found in a middle-aged woman. The third case brings forward an aspect of adolescence that has lip service paid to it as being necessary, namely the defiant, rebellious, questioning and experimental manifestations of the turmoil that accompanies the change from latency to adulthood. In this example, however, the adolescent structures have rigidified and a lethal murderer is revealed to inhabit the inner world.

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