In the last letter, we spoke of in the introverted/extraverted orientations of children, and how knowledge of their disposition can help a child flourish as a unique individual. This time, Jungian Analyst and child development psychologist, Vanessa Prins, explores the next developmental phase: adolescence. With her knowledge of Jung and child psychology, she looks at how knowledge of Jung's types can be helpful for the healthy development of the individual.
As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. jgj
In his article on individuation in the Handbook of Jungian Psychology (Routledge, 2006), Jungian analyst Murray Stein refers to adolescence and early adulthood as the "adapting/adjusting stage." During this stage, the child moves out of the safe containment of the relation with mother or primary caregiver and enters what Stein calls the "patriarchal world" with it's social demands, reality testing, and personal challenges.
Adolescence is an important and often difficult developmental phase when youngsters separate from their childhood. They develop new identities, tried and tested through experience with others. Emotional and biological factors can often generate conflict, anxiety, depression, and disorientation.
A further differentiation of the type preferences occurs. Dispositions evident in early childhood begin to manifest even more clearly. For example, a boy who liked asking questions about how mechanical things work from an early age, in adolescence, might spend more time building and testing all things mechanical. His probable natural orientation to extraverted thinking and extraverted sensation would be further developed.
A more "dreamy" child who enjoyed talking with an imaginary friend in early childhood, might, in adolescence, begin to write in her diary or begin to read a lot, further developing her probable orientations to introverted feeling and introverted intuition.
This sort of differentiation can be amplified by the educational systems that encourage specialization in the secondary schools. When the expectations of the school and of the parents align with the natural gifts of the adolescent, the differentiation can proceed fairly smoothly. But when they don't align, adolescent development can become conflictive and anxious for everyone involved.
Finding the true passion of adolescents and encouraging them to pursue a way of life consistent with their natural type dispositions can be of great help. Their adolescence can be less anxiously challenging and their adult life made easier, more successful, and more enjoyable.
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