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August 18, 1989

Characterizing Healthy Adolescent Development; Distinguishing It From Possible Disturbances

JAMA. 1989;262(7):880-881. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430070016005

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ANNA FREUD once said, "To be normal during the adolescent period is by itself abnormal."

At the American Medical Association—sponsored National Congress on Adolescent Health, experts in the field disputed this portrayal. For example, Irving Weiner, PhD, vice president for academic affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford (Teaneck), NJ, said: "The notion of normative adolescent turmoil is purely and simply a myth." Such claims are not only inaccurate but potentially dangerous, he asserted, if emerging psychopathology is dismissed as normal variability.

The myth has been created by clinicians, nurtured by the news media, and sustained by "the penchant in all of us to retain dramatic and distressing images while barely registering more benign ones," Weiner says. But another reason for the persistence of this image is suggested by Grayson Holmbeck, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, Ill. "After giving up some of the storm and