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October 24, 1966

Psychiatric Symptoms in AdolescentsA Challenge of the 1960's

JAMA. 1966;198(4):359-363. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110170071019

Large numbers of adolescents are currently being referred to physicians, especially psychiatrists, for disturbed behavior. Which of these cases really belong within the field of medicine? Attempts to answer this have included efforts to demonstrate specific syndromes, to demonstrate nonutopian behavior or conflicts, and to evaluate motivation for change. Another approach is to define disturbed behavior as "nonaverage," implying that the patient's behavior should be compared to the average in his social environment. None of these are completely satisfactory, but it is clear that the social environment is of great importance to adolescents. Since this is so, treatment should harness group forces as well as individual ones. These include the following: emphasis on a responsive group environment to facilitate the learning of socially appropriate behavior; controlled emotional arousal to promote identification with appropriate adults; and encouragement of peer-group forces which emphasize leadership, responsibility, and foresight.