TEENAGERS: A NATURAL HISTORY
· David Bainbridge is a veterinary anatomist and reproductive biologist at Cambridge University.
· This book breaks down why teenagers act the way they do- it’s all scientific and linked to biology!
· This book is perfect for teenagers and parents who want a laugh and an explanation on why teenagers are so awful and amazing at the same time.
Aches and Gripes and Lumps and Bumps: Why growing up is hard to do
Ø Teenagers start growing up all at once: sexually, physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually- it’s a mish mash of development and it’s all happening at the same time.
Ø If we look at history, the second decade of life has not been emphasized as much as childhood and adulthood. It has been thought of a transition stage between the two, but not a stage of development on its own.
Ø Bainbridge lays the groundwork for this book by explaining the evolution of human characteristics and what sets humans apart:
o Bipedal walking (walking upright with two legs)
o Increased cognitive abilities
o Sex for non-procreative reasons
o Prolonged period of dependence of offspring
o Did you know the root of the word Puberty comes from the latin word pubes, which means adult? Who knew?!
Thinking, Risk and Rock ‘n’ Roll: Why teenage brains are different
Ø “To the outside world, the adolescent brain appears as a tangle of contradictions: stubborn and inconsistent; thoughtless and introspective; exuberant and depressed.
o To teenagers, the problem is simpler: they cannot get their mind to do what they want it to do.
Ø There is a lot of research about how the teenage brain works and what sets it apart from the adult brain, but only now is their brain chemistry being linked to how teenagers behave.
Ø The reason we think back on memories from our teenage years with such disgust and shame is because our brain was operating in a completely different way than it does now!
Out of the Ordinary: The truth about alcohol, nicotine, and other diversions
Ø Teenagers experience with drugs/alcohol for probably one of two reasons:
o They want to fit in
o They are exercising their teenage urge for experimentation (key word: urge)
Ø More likely to be dissuaded from taking drugs if they hear it from someone they know and like.
Ø ¾ of drug, tobacco, and alcohol addicts first experience their chosen substance in their teenage years.
Ø From the 1970’s to present day, drug use in adolescent has been running at a fairly constant level.
Ø Bainbridge says: “I believe an evolutionary approach will turn out to be our savior, [to help us understand why teenagers are so drawn to drugs and alcohol] because it will explain why humans interact with drugs the way they do.
o Humans are good at taking action once they understand things.
Ø Several triggers for teenage drug use: risk-taking, social and mental stress, low self-esteem. Teenagers react differently to drugs that adults
Ø Alcohol intake is very different between teenagers and adults:
o Research was done measuring how alcohol affected rats. “Young rats consume more alcohol than adult rats under a variety of conditions. Also, putting adult rats in solitary confinement reduces their alcohol intake, but this reduction does not occur in juveniles.”
o “Alcohol causes less sedation and uncoordination in young rats than adults”; teenagers are less sleepy and wobbly after drinking, therefore they’re more likely to carry on drinking, as opposed to adults who feel the effects of alcohol more.
Love and Loss: Why teenage relationships can be the best and worst things in the world
Ø Adolescence is when mental illness can manifest.
Ø The link between mental illness and normal developmental mental processes is a fuzzy gray area.
Ø Teenagers suffer symptoms that would be pathological in adults: prolonged unhappiness, compulsive self-criticism, undirected anxiety, etc. Many teens experience these symptoms and remain mentally healthy.
Teenage Kicks: The ifs, whens, and whys of sex
Ø “I propose that negative attitudes to adolescent sex are damaging to teenagers. Making sex something furtive, criminal even, may give it a little extra tinge of excitement, but it hardly fosters a mature approach.”
o A more positive view of teenage sex as a voluntary, consensual part of growing up would be more helpful.
Ø “Teenagers deserve adults’ support in their uniquely human mental quest because they are simply more important than everyone else. Every different aspect of our lives collides when we are teenagers.
Ø “Being a teenager is not an embarrassing side-effect of being human. Instead, teenagers are what make us human. Adolescence is key: all human life is here.”Courtesy of Caroline Carlin, Sonoma State University Graduate School of Counseling, Spring 2017Posted 4/11/2017