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February 1981

The Mental Health Professional's Concept of the Normal Adolescent

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center (Drs Offer, Ostrov, and Howard); the University of Chicago (Drs Offer and Ostrov); and Northwestern University (Dr Howard), Chicago.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(2):149-152. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780270035003

• This article presents empirical evidence, based on the Offer Self-Image Questionnaire, comparing the self-image of normal adolescents, psychiatrically disturbed adolescents, and juvenile delinquents, with adolescent self-image as seen by 62 mental health professionals. The latter group was asked to complete the test the way they believed a normal, mentally healthy adolescent would complete it. Similar data were gathered from graduate students in psychology. In seven of ten scales, the mental health professionals viewed the normal adolescent as significantly more disturbed than the normal adolescent views himself or herself. The professionals saw the normal adolescents as having more problems than were reported either by the psychiatrically disturbed or the delinquent adolescents. These findings are important in terms of psychodynamic theory of adolescence and diagnostic problems encountered in work with adolescents.

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