Teenage A-Gender

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By: Dr. med. Olaf Koob

One of the first critical questions' of awakening maturity is, "How can I proceed with my life?" Puberty is sometimes called the second fall from paradise. The childhood wrap­pings fall away and individual conscious­ness awakens with a distinct separation into male and female. Confusion or un­preparedness during this time often leads to problems such as anorexia, criminal­ity or disabilities (e.g. rheumatism and schizophrenia). There are also "retreat maneuvers" trying to recapture the lost paradise by the use of drugs or by join­ing a sect.

Looking at adolescence we find sud­den external growth and budding sexu­ality, with the young person generally feeling misunderstood. His/her inner feelings seem different from the rest of humanity—heights of romantic rapture alternate with depths of despair. This makes him/her a rebel making demands on the world, while at the same time with­drawing from it in an attempt to find a balance.

External signs of this inner chaos are teenage acne and body odor because the revised metabolism and limbs have not yet been mastered. The messy room is another sign of what is happening inside. The birth of the true self is always bound up with pain but the identity crises it en­genders differ for girls and boys.

The female element (Venus) is bound up more strongly with the cosmic forces than the masculine (Mars) ones. This is expressed in the rounder female form, the 28-day moon cycle, natural in­tuition, greater spiritual interest and stronger fantasy. At the time of puberty girls are often much more 'present' and more courageous. Their identification with the soul and with feelings can lead to vanity and a desire to please, or in ex­treme cases, a need to show off. While parents do well to ignore excessive "the­ater productions," in general, true con­versations are always the best remedy.

A teenage boy's ego is more dis­tanced from his soul. He retreats, is eas­ily embarrassed and feels defenseless. In the Bible, Adam's rib was taken from him as part of his awakening - an image of polarization between thinking and will­ing. The boy's deeper voice and more angular body are images of the earthly connection. Humor (not irony) can be a remedy when dealing with this poor young soul so recently fallen into gravity who may hide his feelings by being rowdy or acting out through physical vio­lence.

While the girl develops a stronger fantasy life which can easily pull her away from the earth, the boy develops stron­ger physical desires. These are the polaric natures of anima and animus which must be balanced by self-educa­tion so that, later on, both men and women can learn to accept one other as complete human beings.

The leitmotif of puberty is love, whose development will affect the entire course of life. Love, by its nature, is universal and unlimited. The more we take love for its own sake, the more it becomes selfless.

Personal observation leads me to think that if feelings or desires become too fixed too soon with 'sex, drugs and rock and roll' then adolescents get caught in self-gratifying Eros.

One solution is to encourage the adolescents' own ideas and ideals to grow and unfold, especially in the form of healthy activities (e.g. volunteering) which connect them to the world. So, dear parents, if you think your teenage children are exhausted or alienated, open their hearts to all the positive facets of life and the world. However, for this you must let the world light up your own imagination as well.

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