On the Perils of Adolescence

December 5, 2006 at 12:09 pm (Theosophical Museum)

By Professor Rachael Worthington

I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the Women’s Lodge of the Theosophical Society this morning. I especially appreciate the Apple Strudel that Melinda brought. You really have to give us that recipe. I do not believe it is an Austrian state secret! Today’s talk is on the perils of adolescence. I am sure any of you who have raised adolescents will resonate with some of my observations on this topic.

I have found that children are wonderfully fresh and natural until they reach adolescence. At the onset of puberty however, there is a long period of pseudo-personality acquisition in which they are merely fresh. This period has steadily increased over the last several decades. No doubt this is a global phenomena linked to climate change, rising carbon dioxide levels and various unexplained interstellar phenomena. All of this leads to various chemical and hormonal imbalances. During this period, individuals are generally unstable and prone to moodiness, fits and excitability.

Once individuals regain their balance again, they become useful. This generally occurs sometime in their 20s. If this doesn’t happen by their 30s then they risk ending up as an item in the local section of the newspaper – under some title such as “Women Caught in Convenience Store Robbery with Frozen Penquin.” But most do adapt, and the 30s becomes the great altruistic decade where one can work tirelessly, with steadily increasing responsibility. With confidence and insight gained from this service, they can then assume a position of philosophic leadership during their 40s, and retire in their 50s into the gentle twilight of benign sagehood.

Sagehood is the season of the old dog, the culmination of a long lifetime of faithful service. Content, restful, observant, an old dog gives a home a warm sense of serenity. This is especially true if one owns three or four of them. I used to keep about a dozen venerable basset hounds myself, but the porch began to sag so much that my husband made me get rid of them. There was the matter of the fleas too. He was just jealous though – he wanted the porch himself.

Not everyone follows this path of course. That is because during adolescence they become weakened by fox-spirits. Not a lot has been written in our human development texts about fox-spirits, but those who have studied ancient works such as Tales of a Chinese Studio know that the interaction of the human and the daimonic is quite acute during the late years of adolescence. One can become intimate with someone then suddenly realize the other person isn’t human at all. Although some fox-spirits are quite bewitching, many are harmful, weakening ones’ nervous energies, often to the point of exhaustion.

There are ways of course to avoid fox-spirits. Fox-spirits, not being truly human, but only pretending to be human, tend to be especially prone to pseudo-personalities – all their personality is unreal in fact as being foxes they have no natural human personality at all. But if one is careful to choose one’s friends from among those who are unaffected one is safe. There are also fox powders, such as Fox-Pox, that can be purchased that provide protection.

There are other perils to be sure. ‘Flexing the Lifeline’ is an addiction some adolescents acquire which involves repeated testing how many bad decisions it takes to put oneself in serious difficulty. There is ‘Beheading the Statue’ where lopping off the heads of authority figures becomes so habitual that one is unable to secure any sage advice because no one is left to speak. Then there is the danger of ignoring danger altogether and walking straight over the cliff like the laughing Fool in the tarot deck.

And of course there are the problems of delayed adolescence, second adolescence, continual adolescence, and sudden adolescence syndrome. Adolescents are also prone to a number of special medical conditions such as hardening of the pseudo-personality, rapid linguistic de-evolution, toxic stylistic predispositions, and such.

I have found the best way to avoid these perils is to send the child off to a monastery or convent at the onset of adolescence, and have them raised there under strict religious supervision until which time a suitable arranged marriage can be made. But of course, suitable facilities which will take on this task are increasingly harder to find – one needs something very remote. I do have some addresses for places in Inner Mongolia which have worked for our family which I will be happy to share if anyone is in need.

One could say more, but hopefully these brief remarks will help you understand some of what your adolescent is going through, and inspire thoughts of your own on how to work with children of this age. If so, I am very grateful to have been of service.

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