Adolescence

Adolescence

The Transitional Years
1983, Pages 30-65
Adolescence

2 - PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT AND STATUS CHANGE

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This chapter discusses the physical development and status change at puberty. Physical transformation of the body at puberty marks the beginning of a status transition—from childhood to adulthood. A person's sense of identity is vulnerable during a period of marked status change, and this seems particularly true during adolescence. An adolescent's task is to integrate the physical changes of puberty with the psychological transformation into adulthood. At a critical level of maturity prior to puberty, the hypothalamus, a control center in the brain regulating states such as hunger and thirst, relays a message to the pituitary. Although the psychological ramifications of physical maturation have been taken into account, little has been said about the social transition into adulthood that also takes place during adolescence. Adulthood is no longer defined solely in terms of physical size or capacity for mature sexual functioning. Rather, economic and educational criteria are more often used to signify adulthood. Age at which indicators of adulthood are attained has been progressively postponed. In many nontechnological societies, dramatic ceremonies were traditionally held to confer adult status and, thereby, avoid the gap between physical and social maturity.

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