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Ágnes Bálint

Towards the Positive Psychology of Adolescence

Keywords: adolescence, black legend of adolescence, identity project, creativity, fiction


Adolescence is a moratorium period modern society gives young people to prepare for the tasks of adulthood. Society, however, seems to be more and more impatient towards adolescents. During the last century, reference books and studies tended to depict young people as delinquent, selfish, abusive, irresponsible and deviant. My present study aims at deconstructing the “black legend” of adolescence, joining the efforts that try to elaborate the positive psychology of this age period. I rely on fiction written by adolescents. I point out that these stories reflect on adolescents’ identity crisis and serve as a tool for identity construction. The protagonists of these stories, depicted as Mary Sues, fulfill the function of identity projects. I conclude that adolescents are creative by nature, and speculate on mending the “dislocated world” while fighting on the “right side,” and visualize themselves as morally right and competent adults. All these characteristics have some very practical educational implications. Teachers should much more consciously exploit the creative power and speculative inclinations that adolescents possess. Teachers should also appreciate adolescents’ ambitions to live a meaningful life and help them find reasonable goals.

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