Who discovered adolescence?

By: Umeza Peera

Did you know that adolescence was first discovered by American psychologist G.Stanley Hall as a distinct phase of human growth. Hall, also known as the father of Adolescents Psychology, uncovered many interesting facts about teenagers that still hold so relevant 100 years on! Let’s dive right in.

Who discovered adolescence?

The word “adolescence”  first came into prevalence in the 15th century but it wasn’t until 1904 that Hall discovered adolescence. The word “adolescence“ comes from Latin word “adolescere”, which means “to grow up or to grow into maturity”. In his works, Hall described many distinct aspects of adolescence. 

Long legged creatures 

First up is a fun fact! Hall provided an extremely detailed account of bodily growth during adolescence. He mentioned that while various organs and body parts have different rates of growth, it is the limbs that grow faster than the rest of the body in early puberty. Watch out for those long legs! 

Those mood swings

Yep, it’s not just your parents that know about your mood swings. Mr Hall discovered it way back in 1904! Hall said adolescence was a time when depressed mood is more common than at any other stages. He added that the “curve of despondency starts at eleven, rises steadily and rapidly till fifteen, then falls steadily till twenty three.” So all you teens, hang in there! If life doesn’t feel great now, it soon will! Until then blame this ‘meh’ phase on your age. 

The adrenaline rush

Let’s move to perkier stuff. Hall also said that the need for novel and intense sensation (trying out new and exciting things) is especially high during adolescence. “At no time of life is the love for excitement so strong as during the season of the accelerated development of adolescence, which craves strong feelings and new sensations and when monotony, routine and detail are intolerable”.

Ha, don’t we all agree? 

Beware the media 

Didn’t we say Mr Hall surely knew a lot 100 years ago when there was no Internet, TV or for that matter radio! Back in 1904 he said that the media has a very strong influence on the minds of adolescents, even when he was only referring to newspapers! He said that young minds become inflamed with media content and that the main impact of media was to stir the feelings of adolescents.

Wow! Mr Hall got super worried about newspapers and books. Just imagine what he would have to say about social media! But the key takeaway here is that the media can often justify wrong things and make things look more heroic in our perception. So just take things on the media with a pinch of salt! 

Stress and stuff 

Hall was the first to talk about stress among teens! Someone tell our teachers and parents, right! Hall said that teenagers have a tendency to be rebellious and to resist adult authority. It’s that time when conflicts are high. So that fight with your mom in the morning - now you know the reason! Blame adolescence!

Stress and stuff

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