Development III: Adolescence

Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2020-21, 3rd Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Donald Schimmel, PhD
Flaviane Ferreira, MD LMHC


Welcome to our seminar on Adolescence. This course begins with pubescence and ends with late adolescence and emerging adulthood. The aim of this course is to familiarize you with the central developmental challenges associated with early, middle, and late adolescence, as well as emerging adulthood. In addition, throughout this seminar, we will explore how to understand adolescent pathology. The readings draw from a combination of classical and modern articles.

Our aim is also to provide you with an understanding of the manifold interacting elements that influence psychological development during the adolescent years. We intend to discuss the concepts of adolescent sexuality, drive resurgence, object removal, formal operational thinking, identity consolidation and several special issues and challenges in the psychoanalytic treatment of adolescents. Our hope is that this seminar will enrich your work with adults. Indeed, many of you who treat adults may find yourselves confronted with individuals who, from a developmental perspective, have not completed certain adolescent tasks.

Learning Objectives

As a result of taking this course participants will be able to:

  1. compare and contrast the psychological development of young people at different phases of adolescence;
  2. discuss the important psychological tasks associated with each adolescent phase;
  3. discuss the important intra-psychic tasks that are associated with each adolescent epoch;
  4. describe psychoanalytic principles applicable to the treatment of both adolescents and adults and how remnants of an unresolved adolescent phase might carry over into adulthood;
  5. learn to play with adolescents of different ages and how that is applicable to your work with adults;
  6. hone your interpretive skills, e.g., you will learn how to interpret through the mechanism of displacement, and how that is applicable to your work with adult patients; and
  7. learn how to make in-session use of electronics, e.g., smart phones and/or iPads, as a way of deepening your work with adolescents.

March 19, 2021 — Introduction - Historical Review

[42 pages]

We begin with a brief discussion of development from adolescence to adulthood. Historical and cultural changes that have occurred as the world has shifted from an industrial to a digital era have caused today’s youth to traverse development somewhat differently than previous generations. We then turn to Anna Freud who provides a clinically relevant discussion of normality and pathology in adolescence.

We highly recommend Esman’s article which provides an interesting history on the concept of adolescence, as well as an example of an individual who seems to struggle throughout his life with conflicts originating in but far from mastered during adolescence.

Stambler, M.J. (2017). “100 Years of Adolescence and its Prehistory from Cave to Computer.” PSC, 70:22-39.

Freud, A. (1958). “Adolescence.” PSC, 13:255-278


Esman, A. (1993). “G. Stanley Hall and the Invention of Adolescence.” Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Chicago Press. Vol. 19:6-20

March 26, 2021 — Preadolescence and Early Adolescence

[36 pages]

In the next two sessions we review typical characteristics of young people in preadolescence, and early and middle adolescence. We will examine the changes and challenges of late adolescence as the individual looks toward taking on the roles and responsibilities of adulthood.

Gilmore, K.J. and Meersand, P. (2015). Ch. 6, “Preadolescence and Early Adolescence: Introduction to the Adolescent Process and the Challenge of Sexual Maturation.” The Little Book of Child and Adolescent Development, pp121-156.

April 2, 2021 — Middle and Late Adolescence

[31 pages]

Gilmore, K.J. and Meersand, P. (2015). Ch. 7, “Middle and Late Adolescence: Sex and Gender, Individuation and Identity in Progression toward the Threshold of Adulthood.” The Little Book of Child and Adolescent Development, pp157-187.

April 9, 2021 — Emerging Adulthood

[43 pages]

Neither adolescent nor adult, a new phase of development called emerging adulthood is now used to denote this in-between time of life. The papers in this section place emerging adulthood in a historical context and discuss the external and internal processes that contribute to (or, help or hinder) a young person’s movement through this new developmental phase.

Gilmore, K.J. and Meersand, P. (2015). Ch. 8, “Emerging Adulthood and Contemporary Society: Developments in the Third Decade.” The Little Book of Child and Adolescent Development, pp189-212.

Chused, J.F. (2017). “Listening to the Transition: Adolescent to Adult.” PSC, 70:63-73.

Knight, R. (2017). “Emerging Adulthood and Nonlinear Dynamic Systems Theory.” PSC, 70:74-81.


Blos, P. (1967). “The Second Individuation Process of Adolescence.” PSC, 22:162-186.

April 16, 2021 — Adolescence and Cyberspace

[19 pages]

Mid-term evaluations should be conducted in the closing minutes of your classes today. This is a discussion that should be allowed at least 10 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes. No written records are necessary.

Midterm Class Evaluation Discussion Questions

In this seminar we explore the world of electronics and adolescent communication. We present how the use of text messaging with two adolescent girls, within sessions, enabled them to overcome their resistance to talking.

  • Don’s case presentation


Israeli, E. Asulin-Simhon, Z. Sharabany, R. (2013). “The Interface between Cyberspace and Psychotherapeutic Space: Relationship Avoidance and Intimacy in Adolescent Psychotherapy.” PSC, 67:279-297.

April 23, 2021 — Alternative Theoretical Perspectives and Cultural factors

[28 pages]

In this session we examine the unique circumstance of the adolescent leaving home for college and the anxiety and fear that may re-emerge as a result of earlier unresolved separation- individuation issues. Then we focus on the intergenerational transmission of standards, cultural values, and ideals in immigrant families.

Kline, W.H. (2006). “The Re-emergence of Separation Fears in the College Bound Adolescent: From Disruption to Resolution.” JICAP, 5:420-436.

Sherry, S. Ornstein, A. (2014). “The Preservation Transmission of Cultural Values and Ideals: Challenges Facing Immigrant Families.” Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 34(5):452-462.

April 30, 2021 — Affect Regulation and Object Relations Theory

[23 pages]

In this session we begin with an overview of object related issues in adolescence. We also consider how at this age affect tends to be labile, and how affect can trigger a variety of phase- specific defenses.

Tyson, P. and Tyson, R. L. (1990). Psychoanalytic Theories of Development: An Integration, pp. 113-117.

Bronstein, C. (2010). “Two Modalities of Manic Defenses: Their Function in Adolescent Breakdown.” IJP, 91(3):583-600.

May 7, 2021 — Narcissism

[36 pages]

In addition to the changes and challenges of adolescence we have considered so far, it is also necessary to examine the shifts and changes that take place in the inner world. In this session, we focus on the superego.

Blos, P. (1972). “The Function of the Ego Ideal in Adolescence.” PSC, 27:93-97.

Paton, I. (2017). “Within or without: negotiating psychic space with an adolescent at risk of developing a narcissistic personality structure.” Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 43(1):23-39

Britton, R. (2004). “Narcissistic Disorders in Clinical Practice.” Journal of Analytical Psychology, 49(4):477-490

May 14, 2021 — Psychosexual Development and Difference

[43 pages]

In this seminar, we will examine the basic constructs in psychosexual development applicable to adolescence.

Ehrensaft, D. (2014). Listening and learning from gender-nonconforming children. PSC, 68:28-56.

Knight, R. (2014). Free to be you and me: normal gender-role fluidity—commentary on Diane Ehrensaft’s “Listening and learning from gender-nonconforming children.” PSC, 68:57-70.


Friedmen, R., Downey, J. (2008). Sexual Differentiation of Behavior: the Foundation of a Developmental Model of Psychosexuality. JAPA, 56:147-175

May 21, 2021 — Treatment and Technical Issues

[34 pages]

In this seminar we focus on treatment and technical issues with adolescents.

Blos, P. (1989). “The Place of the Adolescent Process in the Analysis of the Adult.” PSC, 44:3-18.

Mondrzak, V.S. (2012). “Reflections on Psychoanalytic Technique with Adolescents Today: Pseudo-Pseudomaturity.” IJP, 93(3):649-666.

May 28, 2021 — Brain Development

[35 pages]

In this seminar we explore the effect of brain development on adolescence. Affect and cognition are oftenconsidered two sides of the same coin. This leads us to consider cognition alongside affect. Advances in cognitivedevelopment during adolescence can be directly attribute to advances in brain development. We also considerrecent research findings not only about brain development in adolescence but also about brain vulnerability.

Hauser, S.T.; Smith, H.F. (1991). “The Development and Experience of Affect In Adolescence.”JAPA, 39S(Supplement):131-165.


Powers, A.; Casey, B. J. (2015). “The Adolescent Brain and the Emergence and Peak of Psychopathology.” Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 14(1):3-15.