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Yanof, J.A. (2015). L.I.E.: An Adolescent's Rocky Road to Mourning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(4):1169-1181.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(4):1169-1181

L.I.E.: An Adolescent's Rocky Road to Mourning Language Translation

Judith A. Yanof

L.I.E. stands for the Long Island Expressway and is also the title of Michael Cuesta's 2001 award-winning independent film about one boy's turbulent journey to adulthood. While the particulars of this adolescent's life are unusually difficult, the film evokes something typical about coming of age for boys in an affluent American suburb. The film also conveys a sense of the peril that can befall any adolescent. This is evoked in the film by a feeling of danger that grows in intensity and moves from background to foreground as it underpins the story line. The film-maker makes some important observations about identity, sexuality, and mourning in the context of adolescent development using the film's gripping emotional narrative.

L.I.E. is a story about loss and its aftermath as well as a developmental journey. The main character is a 15 year-old adolescent named Howie Blitzer (played by Paul Dano) whose life has been tragically altered because his mother has died suddenly in a car crash. Losing a parent in childhood or adolescence is an event of such magnitude that it often overwhelms the capacity to cope. This is because the adolescent, not yet psychologically separate, is still deeply dependent on the parent for a sense of well-being, for the buffering of inner tensions and affect states, and for the support of mental structures not yet fully developed (Samuels, 1988).

Children who lose a parent in childhood or adolescence must participate in two internal tasks at once. They must move forward developmentally and reinvest in life; simultaneously, they must find some way to maintain their sustaining, affective attachment to the lost parent.

[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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