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Strean, H.S. (1961). Difficulties Met in The Treatment of Adolescents. Psychoanal. Rev., 48C(3):69-80.

(1961). Psychoanalytic Review, 48C(3):69-80

Difficulties Met in The Treatment of Adolescents

Herbert S. Strean

Tradition holds that radical changes take place in the developing human organism as it emerges from childhood into maturity. This transitional phase, known as “adolescence” is therefore regarded as one of crucial importance. Like all transitions, it is marked by instabilities and by shifting back and forth from old to new behavior and from old to new attitudes. Most investigators have agreed that adolescence is a period of “storm and stress” and heightened emotionality. 15

Anna Freud has lucidly described the adolescent's plight in The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. 10 She particularly calls attention to the resurgence and intensity of pregenital and oedipal impulses which sharply conflict with the ego's refusal to resort to the wellknown solutions of infancy and latency. This leaves the young person more difficult to reach, control and teach.

Anyone who has lived or worked with adolescents has noted their many struggles on all levels of development. Their oral conflicts appear in hoarding food or abstaining from it, as well as in peculiar choices of food mixtures. Anal sadistic activities are frequently observed—“foul” language and disregard of, or excessive preoccupation with, clothes and cleanliness. Phallic and oedipal interests are embodied in the images of heroes on the movie and television screens. 2

Peter Blos has stated, “The pivotal problem of adolescence is the problem of object relations.”

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