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Scarlett, G. (1971). Adolescent Thinking and the Diary of Anne Frank. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(2):265-278.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(2):265-278

Adolescent Thinking and the Diary of Anne Frank

George Scarlett

The diary of Anne Frank affords one a rare glimpse into the thoughts of an adolescent. And one of the most striking features of Anne's thinking is her tremendous concern for justice and being treated as an equal. Much has been written about the affective development of the adolescent, and more recently the cognitive studies of adolescence have described adolescent egocentrism and the adolescent's task of taking up adult roles. Anne's diary displays the themes and forms common to adolescent thinking, but it is this concern for justice that is perhaps the most striking feature of the book.1a

“For in its innermost depths youth is lonelier than old age.” I read this saying in some book and I've always remembered, and found it to be true. Is it true then that grownups have a more difficult time here than we do? No. I know it isn't. Older people have formed their opinions about everything, and don't waver before they act. It's twice as hard for us young ones to hold our ground, and maintain our opinions, in a time when all ideas are being shattered and destroyed, when people are showing their worst side, and do not know whether to believe in truth and right and God.

Anne wrote the above passage after two years in hiding and just three weeks before she and her family were discovered by the Grüne Polizie. When, therefore, she speaks of “a time when all ideals are being shattered,” she is referring to the condition of war. But her words may also be interpreted as describing the condition of adolescence.

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