This article is a clear and perceptive study of the organizing effect that first love has on the adolescent's psychological development and its influence on the adolescent's future object relations. The author sees first love as a sort of ritual initiation into adolescence, and, whatever its manifest expression, it can be considered an organizer of the psyche that marks the temporal entry into adolescence. Adolescents in the throes of first love are still enmeshed in an infantile libidinal organization to which they strongly adhere, without the protection of experience. First love involves a brutal narcissistic assault, with a violence done to the ego by an exterior object, which is all the more real because its qualities are, by projection, those of the mother in an unremembered past time of primarynarcissism. First love is fragile and is likely to fade into despair at the slightest doubt which insipid reality foists on the suddenly sober adolescent. The hallucinatory wish fulfillment of first love is always close to the pain of an irretrievable loss. In this day of the telephone, it is interesting to see how the adolescent ego still finds indispensable the writing of poems or the keeping of intimate journals, as in times past. The adolescent also recognizes, much more than an adult, how this desire flourishes by not being
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fulfilled, and is more like a child in his need for the illusion of satisfaction. The contemporary climate of sexual liberation may not be psychologically helpful to adolescent development. The traditional family structure, in which each generation benefits from the experience of the older, has broken down. Today there is complicity between parents and adolescents; parents seem to be engaged in a rejection of their own parents by idealizing the adolescent and his or her experiences. The complicity involves urging the youngster on to sexual experience, in sharing confidences about adolescent experiences, even in providing contraceptives to the adolescents to set them on their way toward sexual realization, forgetting the importance of dream and illusion to the adolescent. This lack of a creative lapse of time before experience is unfortunate for the adolescent.
How different it is from the days of the analyst's own adolescence! Yet, upon reflection, perhaps there have been few real changes. The discourse is perhaps essentially the same, only the language is different. The analyst with an adolescent in treatment must speak to the child in the adolescent and at the same time speak to the adolescent's ego-ideal in a language which may even be slightly lofty. All this must be done without infantilization and without complicity. The adolescent cannot tolerate being identified with, and needs an ideal reference point, with a sort of magical comprehension of all that ought to befall him or her. There is usually a defiance in the adolescent's attitude toward therapy, and it would be a mistake to respond to this with a sort of seductiveness. Rarely are very young adolescents taken into analysis, leaving to the first love the privileged place over analytic treatment. It may very well be true that adults in analysis talk little about their adolescence, but it is not at all uncommon for an adolescent whom one has previously treated to return in late adolescence for an analysis, and such individuals focus a great deal on the adolescent experiences, including the important first love.
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Wilson, E., Jr. (1985). Revue Française De Psychanalyse, XLIV. 1980. Psychoanal. Q., 54:328-329