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Blos, P. (1967). The Second Individuation Process of Adolescence. Psychoanal. St. Child, 22:162-186.

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(1967). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 22:162-186

The Second Individuation Process of Adolescence

Peter Blos, Ph.D.

The biological processes of growth and differentiation during puberty effect changes in the structure and in the functioning of the organism. These changes occur in a typical and sequential order, called maturation. The same applies to the psychological changes of adolescence. These, too, follow a developmental pattern but of a different order, since these changes draw content, stimulation, aim, and direction from a complex interplay of inner and outer impingements. What we, eventually, observe are new stabilizing processes and alterations of psychic structures, both of which are the result of adolescent accommodations.

At the points where both the pubertal maturation and the adolescent accommodation intersect in order to become integrated, there we find the critical stations of adolescent development. I have described these stations, clinically and theoretically, in terms of adolescent phases (Blos, 1962). They are the milestones of progressive development, each marked by a phase-specific conflict, a maturational task, and a resolution that is preconditional for the advance to higher levels of differentiation. Beyond these typical aspects of the adolescent phases, we can recognize a component in psychic restructuring that winds, like a scarlet thread, through the entire fabric of adolescence. This unrelenting component is manifest with equal pertinacity in preadolescence as in late adolescence. It is conceptualized here as the second individuation process of adolescence. In my previous studies of adolescence I have continuously emphasized the heterogeneity of phases in terms of the positions and movements of


The first draft of this paper was presented at Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C., April 5, 1965; the second draft at the University Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan, February 15, 1966; the final draft at the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Society, February 17, 1967, and at the Michigan Association for Psychoanalysis, February 18, 1967.

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