email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
The Creek"Who Could That Be at This Hour?"100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian Drew3 Willows33 Minutes47A Company of FoolsA Corner Of The UniverseA Crack In The LineA Frog ThingA Great and Terrible BeautyA Monster CallsA Monster CallsA Northern LightA Step From HeavenA Step Toward FallingA Stir of BonesA Tragic Kind of WonderfulA Walk in the Rain With a BrainA Wish for Wings That WorkAdam Canfield of the SlashAfterAlice MacLeod, Realist at LastAll Rivers Flow to the SeaAll SoulsAll the Bright PlacesAll the WayAll Unquiet ThingsAmerican GirlsAmong the HiddenAmong the ImpostorsAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of a MisfitAngus, Thongs and Full-Frontal SnoggingAnnie's BabyAnything Could HappenAristotle and Poetic JusticeAristotle and the Secrets of LifeArizona KidArtemis FowlAs Simple as SnowAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAt the End of WordsAway Laughing on a Fast CamelBad Girls ClubBad RatsBang!Beating HeartBeauty QueensBecause of Winn-DixieBefore I DieBefore I FallBetween Mom and JoBeyond MagentaBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBlack HelicoptersBlack-eyed SuzieBlind SightBog ChildBoy Kills ManBoy ProofBoysBoys Are DogsBoys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking BootsBraceBrainstormBrave HeartsBreakfast Served AnytimeBreaking PointBronx MasqueradeBruisesBrushing Mom's HairBrutalBurnCatalystCathy's BookCathy's KeyCaveat EmptorCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Great Glass ElevatorChild Insanity in England, 1845-1907Children and the Politics of SexualityChildren's RightsCity of CannibalsCity of HalvesClaiming Georgia TateClawsClay's WayConfessions of a Teenage Drama QueenConfessions of an Angry GirlContentious IssuesCoralineCountry Girl, City GirlCrispinCrossesCruise ControlCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthCut Both WaysDancing in My NuddypantsDani Bennoni: Long May He LiveDead Little Mean GirlDear Zoe,Define NormalDeliriumDeliverance From EvilDestination UnexpectedDirty Little SecretsDiscovering Pig MagicDivaDivergentDoing ItDown the Rabbit HoleDrawing a BlankDuck! Rabbit!Ellison the ElephantEmma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a TreeEmpress of the WorldEscape Under the Forever SkyEvery Exquisite ThingEvery Little Thing in the WorldEverything Is FineEverything on a WaffleFacelessFacts About ADHD ChildrenFade to BlackFade to BlueFaith, Hope, and Ivy JuneFaking NormalFans of the Impossible LifeFeather BoyFile Under: 13 Suspicious IncidentsFinallyFinding H. F.FiregirlFirst CrossingFlashcards of My LifeForbiddenForest of the PygmiesFoxFreak the MightyFreaky Green EyesFree?FreewillFrictionGeektasticGentlemenGeography ClubGeorgeGeorge's Marvelous MedicineGetting Over Garrett DelaneyGhost at the WindowGirl PartsGirls Acting CattyGirls in PantsGirlsourceGLBTQGoing BovineGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGossip GirlGotta Get Some Bish Bash BoshGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGutsHamletHandbook for BoysHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHarmlessHarry the Hypno-potamusHate ListHear Us Out!HeartbeatHeartbeatHeroHippie ChickHitler's DaughterHonor GirlHootHow to Build a HouseHumanism, What's That?Hurt Go HappyI Am Not Joey PigzaI Donít Want to be CrazyI Need You More Than I Love You and I Love You To BitsI Saw It HappenIf a Tree Falls at Lunch PeriodIf I StayIf We KissIn the Company of CraziesInvincibleIt Happened to NancyIt Was A Dark And Silly NightIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalJacob's LadderJakarta MissingJake RileyJames and the Giant PeachJennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, ElizabethJoey Pigza Loses ControlJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJokerJumping Off SwingsJumping the ScratchKeeping the MoonKeeping Your Child in MindKids Gone WildKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKim: Empty InsideKiss of Broken GlassKissing in AmericaKissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys)Knocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLast CallLast DecemberLeaping BeautyLemony SnicketLess Than PerfectLiarLittle ChicagoLizard LoveLizard RadioLizzy's Do's and Don'tsLock and KeyLooking for BobowiczLooking for NormalLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogLove, AubreyLucy in the SkyLukeís Way of LookingMadappleMade For YouMaking the RunMaking the RunMany StonesMapsMargaux with an XMary Pope Osborne's Tales from the OdysseyMichael Rosen's Sad BookMirrorMaskMolly Moon's Incredible Book of HypnotismMonsterMore Than a LabelMore Than FriendsMore Than FriendsMouse's First ValentineMy Brain Tumour AdventuresMy HeartbeatMy One Hundred AdventuresMy Perfect LifeNastybookNo Right TurnNot As Crazy As I SeemNothing But the TruthNothing PinkNow Playing: Stoner & Spaz IIOCDanielOlive My LoveOlive's OceanOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex GodOne Hot SecondOur Broken PiecesOut of BoundsOut of the DustPandemoniumPanic at Toad HallPaper TownsPaperweightPatrolPeachesPeriod PiecesPictures of Hollis WoodsPiggyPINSPlanet JanetPlanet PregnancyPlaying a PartPretty Girl-13Prince William, Maximilian Minsky & MePrincess in LovePrincess in the SpotlightPrisoner of Night and FogPrisoners Under GlassProject Sweet LifePsychotherapy with Adolescent Girls and Young WomenPuddlejumpersPunkzillaPurgeRainbow PartyRebuttalRequiemRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRevolting Rhymes & Dirty BeastsRosy Cole's Memoir ExplosionSabrielSaving GraceSay YesScatSchool of FearSee You at Harry'sSexuality in AdolescenceSexyShadows on the WallShatteredShelterShooterSide Effects May VarySilence is GoldfishSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaSins of the FathersSix Impossible ThingsSkelligSmackSmall Avalanches and Other StoriesSolitaireSome Assembly RequiredSomeday This Pain Will Be Useful to YouSomeone Like YouSomething About AmericaSong for EloiseSophie Pitt-Turnbull Discovers AmericaSophie Spikey Has a Very Big ProblemSophomore SwitchSplit ScreenStartled by His Furry ShortsStone WaterStory of a GirlStuffSuffer the ChildrenSummer of the SkunksSurviving HitlerSweetheartsSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTargeting AutismTeaseTeen Angst? NaaahTeen TelevisionThat SummerThawThe 10 PM QuestionThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Actual Real Reality of Jennifer JamesThe Amnesia ClinicThe Arctic IncidentThe Artsy Smartsy ClubThe Bear MakersThe Beast of CretaceaThe BFGThe Big BurnThe Book of JudeThe Boy Who Climbed into the MoonThe Boy Who DaredThe Boyfriend ListThe Buffalo TreeThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Case of the Case of Mistaken IdentityThe Cemetery BoysThe Chosen OneThe Clouds AboveThe Color of AbsenceThe Crazy Things Girls Do for LoveThe Dating GameThe Day Leo Said I Hate You!The DaydreamerThe Diary of a Killer CatThe Diary of Pelly DThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-BanksThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round ThingsThe EndThe Ersatz ElevatorThe Eternity CubeThe Eyes of van GoghThe Flight of a DoveThe Future of UsThe Geography of GirlhoodThe Geography of You and MeThe Ghost NetworkThe GiantessThe Great BrainThe Grim GrottoThe Heretic's DaughterThe Hookup ArtistThe Horse and His BoyThe Hostile HospitalThe Last Chance TexacoThe Last Time I DiedThe Last Time We Say GoodbyeThe Little TernThe Love Curse of the RumbaughsThe Lucky PlaceThe Memory of LightThe Men They Will BecomeThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Mystery of the Third LucretiaThe Naked Truth About SexThe Neil Gaiman Audio CollectionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Outcasts of 19 Schuyler PlaceThe Palace of LaughterThe PanopticonThe Penultimate PerilThe Porcupine of TruthThe PostcardThe Princess DiariesThe Rules of SurvivalThe Same Stuff as StarsThe Sands of TimeThe ScarThe Serious KissThe ShakeressThe Silent BoyThe Silly BookThe Sledding HillThe Slippery SlopeThe Snow SpeaksThe Spider and the BeeThe SpindlersThe StepsThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Tail of Emily WindsnapThe Teenage BrainThe Thief LordThe Thing About JellyfishThe Thought that CountsThe Treasure Map of BoysThe TwitsThe UninvitedThe View from SaturdayThe Vile VillageThe Virginity ClubThe WilloughbysThe Wish HouseThe Witch of Blackbird PondThe Witch's BoyThe Wolves in the WallsThe Wolves of AndoverThen Again, Maybe I Won'tThen He Ate My Boy EntrancersThey Broke the Law-You Be the JudgeThings I Have to Tell YouThirstyThirteen Reasons WhyThis Book Is Not Good For YouThis Burns My HeartThis Full HouseTime Stops for No MouseTransgender Children and YouthTrue BelieverTrue BelieverTruesightTurtles All the Way DownTwenty Boy SummerTwistedUnder Pressure and OverwhelmedUnder the Wolf, Under the DogUnder WildwoodVery Far Away from Anywhere ElseVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysWalking on GlassWastelandWatch Me Do YogaWe Are OkayWe're Not MonstersWelcome to the ArkWhale TalkWhat Comes AfterWhat HappenedWhat I Saw And How I LiedWhat the Birds SeeWhat Works for Bipolar KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Jeff Comes HomeWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen the Moon ComesWhen You Reach MeWhere She WentWhere The Kissing Never StopsWho Has What?Why Are You So Sad?WildwoodWill You, Won't You?Witch ChildWith Their EyesWolf on the FoldWonderlandWorlds ApartWurst Case ScenarioYogaYoga 4 TeensYou Hear MeYou Know You Love MeYou Look Different in Real LifeYour Body Is AwesomeZane's TraceZapZazoo
I am always amazed when I see parents negotiating with young children and then demanding complete compliance with teenagers. After all, young children need to be told what to do, whereas teenagers are only desperately trying to negotiate their autonomous progress in the world, and find their own voice. This is why the arborization and pruning of the teenage brain on its way to eventual young adult maturity is such an interesting time for both them and parents, and of course researchers such as Dan Siegel.
Not just theoretical, Siegel regularly interfaces the book with sections of ‘Mindsight’ tools for teenagers to use as practical ways to strengthen their minds and improve their day to day lives, a great attraction of this book and quite an innovation.
For the first section, Siegel explains what is going on, and then how the teenager can set themselves up for a better-brained life by taking steps to address the issues arising in the Brain-storm of adolescence. This moves on to the third section, and reasonably this is all about relationships and how they reciprocally interface with all of the action taking place in the brain. As with self-determination theory, this action around relatedness is crucial to the outcomes of this so-called turbulent period in the teenage life. This leads in turn to the fourth part, hence the mind-sight tools, of being present and actively engaged in the vicissitudes of this time in the teenage evolution.
An interesting approach Siegel takes is to allow those who are really action orientated to look only at the research-derived Mindsight portions of the book, trimmed with dark borders, and get into the action-orientated sections, or for those who are more serious minded, and want to know how he got these exercises going, the interstitial chapters are available for scrutiny. Part IV is a more story-based section, so the reader can actually just start there. In this way the essential features and challenges of adolescence can be harnessed and harvested to create a better world for the adolescent at the end of this often perplexing journey.
The point of the adolescent brain maturation is to enable four qualities, namely novelty seeking, social engagement, emotional intensity rises, and creative exploration intensifies, all supported by growth and maturation in the brain circuitry that subserve these functions, as any motor vehicle insurance company actuary will attest to. Reward seeking behavior driving the adolescent to new things, connect with peers in novel ways, experience relationships and emotions with increasing intensity, and push back on the old ways of doing, namely exhibit some rejection or rebellion against set ways of doing things. Siegel of course will point out the upside to all of these, but the potential is there for a downside, as he elaborates. For instance, we all know that seeking novelty for the sake of learning is amazing, but seeking novelty only for the excitement of risk sees off many youngsters into death or disability, if that is the main focus. As with elephants whose older role models are culled, the focus on teen values and the neglect of adult advice leads to adoption of risky behavior or rebellion, but also gives opportunity for creativity in relationships and the building of adult networks for the future. Again, emotional intensity creates a vital scenario for passion, but can lead to increased risk of heartache and moodiness, even disillusionment. Searching for meaning in life can be frustrating, or it can be a process of constantly moving forward. Mental excitement and mental confusion can run in parallel, hence his subtitle: how do we maintain the power and purpose of the young mind so that a productive emergence into adulthood can be realized?
He uses the mnemonic ESSENCE: emotional spark, social engagement, novelty, and creative exploration to keep the above in mind. The downside is that although teenagers are fitter and healthier than either children or adults, they make up the biggest chunk of statistics when it comes to avoidable death, as I hinted above in the risks and rewards payoffs inherent in the ESSENCE’s he speaks of: the risks are THREE times greater in this period. Siegel thus has to address the issue of maximizing reward while minimizing risk, which is after all the salient drive for all of us, so enhanced in young adulthood. But the period from 12-24 is the most dangerous time for all of us, as we push boundaries, sometimes to our detriment. With what he believes is an increasing disconnect between teens and today’s world, as evidenced perhaps by school shootings for instance, Siegel has set out to address this to maximize the potential of these years without increasing, and in fact attempting to decrease hostile learning events, each with a degree of personal tragedy.
The push in adolescence is thus against the known, the safe, the familiar, a two edged sword built into our genes, and unavoidable if growth is to occur, and certainly this is the core of innovation for the brain and brain output. Another modern potential for disruption is the earlier onset of puberty, and the extended journey towards mating and breeding, leading to a longer adolescence than history has recorded, in the present Western ecosystem. Losing the familiar and safe might thus happen earlier, and hence the presenting forces of the exciting but unfamiliar and unsafe might challenge us younger and younger.
Part two, as promised addresses the brain, rewards, dopamine, etc. Integration of the brain activity remains prominent in both the first set of Mindsight tools that precede this chapter, as well as in it, meaning embracing a wider range of behaviors, as well as experiencing connectedness, belonging, as a result of greater coordination of structures and their functions. This relatedness, or increased need for it, results again in vulnerability and opportunity both, as there is a ‘letting go’ of brain connections, the things of childhood, and a building up of the new drives and the structures that subserve them, in a more integrated way. Average pruning of the brain may unmask vulnerabilities leading to difficulties in working out self-identity, or the dysregulation of emotions, or ‘flipping our lids’.
Part three thus predictably reaches out to embrace attachments as a core issue for adolescence, again referring to the relatedness and integration mentioned above. Without these, we risk being chaotically overwhelmed or rigidly shut down, rather than embracing relationships with passion. Secure models for attachment, namely integrative social connections, especially early on, are critical here as expected. These offer a safe harbor of support, to turn to in moments of distress, as much as supporting how we go out and explore the world. This would be why for instance a person with Borderline Personality traits of emotional dyscontrol and anxious or hostile attachments would both experience no safe haven, and also avoid a voyage of interpersonal discovery. This combination of safe harbor and launching pad is essential. Attachment thus means being seen, safe, soothed and secure. It can also mean however, not just secure, but perhaps avoidant, which means seeking secure attachment somewhere else, not avoiding security after all. Ambivalence is also another form of attachment, where there is inconsistency or intrusiveness from a parent. The disorganized type would then be able to be expressed in the context of the previous three. So you can’t simultaneously go toward and away from the source of attachment, leading to fragmentation, and often dissociation, making it difficult for you to prosper in life. Without a secure attachment figure, reactive attachment allows connectedness to a wide range of characters that enter our lives, but this is really the absence of attachment, and separate to the other models, or versions.
Facing these is then what Siegel refers to as integrating the brain, namely re-organizing and associating rather than the dissociation and fragmentation of the disorganized and reactive states.
Section IV deals with love and romance, and really this is the heart of the matter for most fledgling relationships in adolescence, as this is a time of very labored attempts to interlink with others your age, who are pretty much in the dark in terms of experience as you might be at that time in your life.
Siegel has written a great manual for not only adolescents, but for those who never negotiated adolescence well, or whose attachments and romantic interludes were a time of negotiation and learning, sometimes not complete and sometimes heart-churning. It is really really well designed and written, with great mindsight inserts that help bring it all together and make it real. Not just for the end user, but for all who wonder about that time in their lives, or their children. Siegel never fails in his writing to achieve his ends, as he does here, with both applied power and success in achieving his purpose.
© 2014 Roy Sugarman
Roy Sugarman, Ph.D., Director Applied Neuroscience, EXOS, USA.