Developmental and Treatment Issues in Emerging Adulthood
B. James Bennett, IV, MD
In 2000, developmental psychologist Jeffrey Arnett first proposed a new phase of development, “emerging adulthood,” also known as young adulthood. This phase reportedly centers around the challenges of identity, role exploration, and subjective experience, influenced by changes in demographics and contemporary culture. The concept received little reaction from psychoanalysts, according to Gilmore (2019), likely because psychoanalytic theory historically placed little emphasis on adult development. Based on her review, she believes that concepts of adulthood and identity warrant legitimacy in contemporary psychoanalysis. Chused (2017) expanded the psychoanalytic view of emerging adulthood, noting that the transition from adolescence to adulthood involves processes of disidentification from parents. Difficulties may be manifested by the emerging adult’s rebelliousness or idealization and overdependency on parents. Bonovitz (2018) further asserted that the young adult’s individuation process is more complicated when narcissistically vulnerable parents are unable to allow themselves to be symbolically “killed off.” Bonovitz and Chused provided detailed case examples to illustrate these dynamics.
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