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Britzman, D.P. (2012). The Adolescent Teacher: A Psychoanalytic Note on Regression in the Professions. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 11(3):272-283.

(2012). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 11(3):272-283

The Adolescent Teacher: A Psychoanalytic Note on Regression in the Professions

Deborah P. Britzman

Encounters with adolescence and its quest for truth, beauty, and thought can be used as a psychoanalytic framework in understanding the education of the helping professions. A significant conflict resides in the state of professional knowledge toward psychical life that tends to be expressed as alienation between developmental theory and pedagogy. I treat my undergraduate teacher education course The Adolescent and the Teacher as a psychoanalytic case study on the developing education of adults who grew up within the school system and return to work there. The paper focuses on problems in teacher education, an area hardly considered as affecting the imaginary of school psychology, counseling, and social work, and discussions about the nature of adolescence, yet provides a commentary on the impossible professions dedicated to education. The discussion leans on the psychoanalytic idea that adults working in schools are subject to their adolescence—elemental sets of internal conflicts, phantasies, and defenses—that return in professional knowledge as demands for certainty and as a belief that learning is a tonic to conflict as opposed to conflict's delegate. Working with Kristeva's (2007) formulation of “the adolescent syndrome of ideality,” the paper speculates on psychical life as our most radical relation to the self and other. Yet in this meeting a kernel of alienation is carried into responses to conflicts in the structure of schooling, self/other relations, the arrangement of professional knowledge, and reaches into the confusion between phantasies of a profession and the daily imperatives to act with certainty.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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