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Greenacre, P. (1970). Youth, Growth, and Violence. Psychoanal. St. Child, 25:340-359.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 25:340-359

Youth, Growth, and Violence

Phyllis Greenacre, M.D.

The aim of this paper is to investigate from a psychoanalytic angle the nature and course of development in adolescents and young adults of symptoms of unrest leading to violence and in the extreme to bomb throwing, as these have appeared during the present revolutionary period. It is necessary further to consider in what ways the present social situation has cooperated or combined with and exaggerated the ordinary problems of adolescence to such an extent as to involve youth fundamentally in the current revolutionary activities.

Youths and artists have often participated in revolutions, especially in the initiation of their more drastic phases. Students uprisings and protests belong to the revolutionary picture. Nor is this really surprising. Adolescence is a time of marked and rather abrupt growth associated with the maturational changes of puberty. It is a time when with the forward surge of energy accompanying the changes in body size and proportions and especially the maturing of the sexual organs, there is a sudden confluence of stimulations with an awareness of new vistas and expectations in life—with bold ambitions and qualms of apprehensive uneasiness. It is often a time of a maturational crisis in which there is a rearousal and a chance for a new deal of the problems left over from early childhood. At the same time there is a need for a rapid shift in behavior even in day-to-day living. It is often a time of painful emotional revolution with a great variety of external manifestations as well as of inner stress.


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