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Adolescence is the period of life from about age 13 to the early 20s, during which a young person is no
longer physically a child but is not yet an independent, self-supporting adult.


The Growth Spurt

A girls rapid growth begins at age 10 and reaches a peak at age 12. Boys lag behind girls by
about two years, so that their growth spurt typically begins at age 13 and peaks at age 14.
Muscles also develop rapidly in both sexes, with boys normally gaining a higher proportion of muscles
mass than girls do. Girls gain extra fat, primarily in the breasts, hips, and buttocks. The hips broaden
in young women, the shoulders in young men.

Sexual Maturation
Menarche- the first menstruation-normally between the ages of 11 and 15. However, young girls often

begin to menstruate before they have begun to ovulate, so they may not actually be capable of
reproducing for 12 to 18 months after menarche.
For the average boy the sexual maturation process begins at about age 11 to 11 with an initial
enlargement of the testes and scrotum. The marker of sexual maturation that is most like menarche in
girls is a boys first ejaculation- the emission of seminal fluid in a wet dream or while masturbating.
Boys often do not produce viable sperm until some time after their first ejaculation.


Adolescents who acquire formal operations can mentally juggle and think logically about ideas, which
cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, or touched. Formal-operational thought is more hypothetical and
abstract than concrete-operational thought, it also involves adopting a more systematic and scientific
approach to problem solving.
This cognitive advance is feasible primarily due to the final development of the frontal lobes of the brain,
the part of the brain that is responsible for organizing, understanding, and decision making.
Although headed into an adult-style of thinking, adolescents are not yet completely free of egocentric
thought. At this time in life, however, their egocentrism shows up in their preoccupation with their own
thoughts. They do a lot of introspection and may become convinced that their thoughts are as important
to others as they are to themselves.
PERSONAL FABLE. Adolescents have spent so much time thinking about their own thoughts and
feelings that they become convinced that they are special, one of a kind, and that no one else has ever
had these thoughts and feelings before them.
IMAGINARY AUDIENCE shows up as extreme self-consciousness in adolescents. They become
convinced that everyone is looking at them and that they are always the center of everyone elses world,
just as they are the center of their own.



Puberty signals a reawakening of the sexual aim and the beginning of the genital period.

Adolescents give up autoeroticism and direct their sexual energy toward another person instead of
toward themselves.
Reproduction is now possible.
The entire sexual drive takes on a more complete organization, and the component drives that had
operated somewhat independently during the early infantile period gain a kind of synthesis during
adolescence; thus, the mouth, anus, and other pleasure-producing areas take an auxiliary position to
the genitals, which now attain supremacy as an erogenous zone.


Adolescence, is the stage at which we must meet and resolve the crisis of our basic ego identity. This
is when we form our self-image, the integration of our ideas about ourselves and about what others
think of us. If this process is resolved satisfactorily, the result is a consistent and congruent picture.
Those who fail to achieve a cohesive identity-who experience an identity crisis-will exhibit a confusion
of roles. Often they must either repudiate the values of parents or reject those of the peer group.
Identity confusion is a syndrome of problems that includes a divided self-image, an inability to
establish intimacy a sense of time urgency, a lack of concentration on required tasks, and a rejection
of family or community standards.
According to Erikson, identity emerges from two sources: 1) adolescents affirmation or repudiation of
childhood identification, and 2) their historical and social contexts, which encourage conformity to
certain standards.
Fidelity (basic strength) which emerges from a cohesive ego identity. Faith in ones ideology.
Role repudiation (core pathology) that blocks ones ability to synthesize various self-images and
values into a workable identity can be in a form of diffidence or defiance. Diffidence is an extreme
lack of self-trust or self-confidence and is expressed as shyness or hesitancy to express oneself.
Defiance is the act of rebelling against authority.