G. Stanley Hall: Storm & Stress in Adolescence

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  • 0:00 Storm & Stress
  • 1:26 Biology & Adolescence
  • 2:08 Psychology & Adolescence
  • 3:08 Hall's Impact
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

This lesson will discuss the impact of G. Stanley Hall's work regarding adolescence. You will learn what is meant by the term 'storm and stress,' as well as its causes and characteristics.

Storm and Stress

Missy gets into a fight with her mother about what she is wearing to school. When she gets to school, she is happy, but she bursts into tears when she hears some other girls talking about her. Her boyfriend makes her angry because he tells her to stop crying. At the end of the school day, she speeds out of the parking lot in her car.

This is an example of storm and stress that is experienced in adolescence. The term 'storm and stress' was coined by G. Stanley Hall in Adolescence, written in 1904. Hall used this term because he viewed adolescence as a period of inevitable turmoil that takes place during the transition from childhood to adulthood. 'Storm' refers to a decreased level of self-control, and 'stress' refers to an increased level of sensitivity. Hall's perception of adolescence continues to influence our view of this period of development.

Three main categories of storm and stress described by Hall are:

  • Conflict with parents: Adolescents tend to rebel against authority figures as they seek greater independence and autonomy.
  • Mood disruption: Hormonal changes and the psychological stress of adolescence can cause uncontrollable shifts in emotions.
  • Risky behavior: The combination of a neurological need for stimulation and emotional immaturity lead to increased risk-taking behavior during adolescence.

Biology and Adolescence

According to Hall, some of the blame for this period of storm and stress is due to the biological changes of puberty. It takes time for developing bodies to get used to managing these biological changes. Hormone changes can account for many of the mood swings that occur. Physical growth at this time can make adolescents feel uncomfortable or awkward. Neurological connections are also rapidly coming together and causing adolescents to seek stimulation.

For example, Missy might be overreacting to other girls talking about her because her hormones are affecting her emotions. When her boyfriend calls her a drama queen, he may be right, but Missy does not have the control over her mood swings to react to the situation rationally.

Psychology and Adolescence

Hall also defined typical psychological characteristics of the adolescent period. As adolescents seek independence, they rebel against authority figures, and strong associations with peer groups develop. Attention-seeking and risk-seeking behaviors also increase during adolescence. These characteristics contribute to increased levels of conflict in the adolescent period. Emotions tend to vary widely and change at a moment's notice. A person is also more likely to experience feelings of depression, self-consciousness, embarrassment, loneliness, and nervousness at this time more than any other time in their lives.

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