Emotional regression in adolescents

August 15, 2012

I’ve seen it happen in many cases, people I know, or have known, who go into adolescence with so much potential and never come out the other end, in terms of exiting onto the solid ground of a healthy and mature adult emotional life.  I think adolescents must be particularly vulnerable to trauma (maybe there’s even a vast psychological literature on this).  Maybe emotional growth involves taking risks and traumatized teens refuse to take them.

Both members of the Republican ticket in the presidential race have trauma in their histories — Ryan, the death of a father (including discovering the body), Romney, a car accident in France.  Given some of the behavioral and policy tendencies of both men, I wonder just how thoroughly either man has processed his emotions arising out of his experience.

Both come across as callous, for instance, especially about people outside their apparently pretty narrow circles.

I think this sort of analysis is important, not to judge the individuals but to suggest that without a healthy inner emotional life their insight into developing policy that affects others may be limited.  I think a Paul Ryan or a Mitt Romney has potential to do much better than they do but that they won’t if they never address their own issues first.  I think others can rail at them til the cows come home about particulars in their policies and how problematic they may be, but I don’t think it will ever register with them until they can see with unclouded eyes themselves.

To put it frankly, they come across to me like people who have “stuffed” their emotions rather than processed them.  This is a pretty standard coping strategy, as I understand it, with pretty standard negative consequences.  But if such people flock together, they reinforce one another and none of them feels compelled or inspired to finish growing up developmentally, I think.

That seems to me to make it a public issue, that such an emotional profile seems to have become a defining one for a major political party, one complete with its own apparatus of media outlets and think tanks.  This, to my mind, has institutionalized emotional unhealth, and I think it needs to be dismantled from the bottom up.


One Response to “Emotional regression in adolescents”

  1. gabby Says:

    What an ignorant article. You are a sham to opine without any accredidation and downright absence of relationship to two political figures and lay some false claim of understanding how they have processed very personal losses by your shallow impression of their public personas and somehow try to persuade others that they are unfit to hold office or affect public policy is utter nonsense. Whoever you are, you are a pathetic idiot who needs to get a real life, a real education and a better purpose. I think you are the narrow one here. You can’t share wisdom when you don’t actually posess any.

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