The most obvious and direct way that psychology has helped to establish the idea of adolescence is by it’s blatant claim to objective conclusions regarding teenagers. Scientifically “proven” claims about adolescence are sold to us by the truckload. Professional psychologists deliver their findings as facts. Anyone who challenges these “facts” without a PhD in the field is passed off as a simpleton.
Psychology has hijacked our thoughts about the possibility of a mature teenager. Journal article after book after web-site after sitcom after teen movie after college psychology class curriculum conditions us and drills us with assertions of adolescent incompetency and irresponsibility. Counselors annotate their apparent restlessness and reinforce their perpetual identity crisis. Of course this is all just icing on the cake compared to the ever-repressing raging hormones. This is so remarkable that an adolescent might “suffer from symptoms that would be considered mad in an adult, but are just part of the normal mental development for the young person” (Hine, p. 33).
The finishing touch to the psychologist’s argument is that to suppress a teenager’s adolescent mindset is to cause irreparable psychological damage. It is kind of convenient that suppressing adolescence (“suppressing” defined as expecting them to grow up and act their age) is the guaranteed path to creating teenage casualties. Not a bad position for them to take, threatening harm to the teenager proportionate to disagreement with their theory.
Never mind that “while endocrinology is a field where fundamental discoveries are made regularly, there is not yet any biochemical explanation for surliness, self-absorption, or rebelliousness” (Hine, p. 30). Never mind that the Bible explains surliness, self-absorption, and rebelliousness as part of human nature, not just teenage nature. Never mind that Scripture grants no exceptions for hormones, it only offers forgiveness for sins.
The rise of psychology established the adolescent as a special, unstable sort of creature. Again, in claiming to be “science,” it has given professional, medical, scientific credibility to the “I’m only an adolescent, so I’m not responsible for what I do.”
But “[d]espite their claims to universality, the much-watered-down psychoanalytic views that underlie popular discourse on the problems of youth are time-bound and culture-bound” (Hine, p. 39). In other words, that means our culture has invented this myth in the last hundred years or so. We have been indoctrinated by this hypothetical myth. Adolescence is a distorted, biased assumption and not an observable, objective phenomena. If only the truth was more persuasive than fiction.