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June 1968

Compulsory Happiness: Adolescent Despair

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;18(6):650-657. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740060010002

THE GAY, carefree days of adolescence as nostalgically reconstructed by adults is a sharp contrast to the heavy troubled expressions so frequently observed on the faces of many young men and women. To some extent a depressed outlook, although associated with affective swings, has been considered a typical adolescent mood.

Many authors1-3 have described features by which they sought to "define" adolescence in terms of psychic processes rather than merely as an entity with chronological boundaries. Although what can be generalized for the group is still a controversial subject, there seems to be agreement about some psychic mechanisms.

For example, since Erikson's4 comprehensive description of the identity crisis of adolescence, many therapists are impressed by their patients preoccupation with both the meaning of life and where they fit. They complain about not knowing who they are and the purpose of

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