Teenage Problems Part One
by Bob Leckridge
When children go to school they begin to learn how to interact with other children. There are great pressures in the playground to conform and to be included in the group. Throughout primary schooling, this socialisation is a strong feature. Once children grow into their teenage years, they become aware of quite other pressures too. At various stages in life, human beings ask themselves the question “Who am I?” This is often associated with the birthdays which end in “0” – especially later in life, where 30, 40 and 50 are seen as “significant” birthdays sometimes associated with the “mid-life crises”. The seeds of these crises lie in the teenage years because this is the time of life when we begin to ask profound questions.
Not only are teenagers subject to pressures to belong, in the same way as they experienced when younger, but they are beginning to become aware of the need to know themselves as individual and unique. This is a real tension. How can you affirm your uniqueness and yet at the same time not be rejected by your peers?
Happily, one of the ways emerges naturally because all the teenager’s friends are experiencing exactly the same tension. This leads to them identifying with sub-groups of teenagers with common interests and common ways of behaving. We can see this in apparently paradoxical ways. For example, one particular style adopted by some teenagers these days is that of the “Goth”. If you see one of these kids in the street with their parents, you wonder if the child has been parachuted down into this family unit from outer space! With their black clothes, chains, heavy make-up, they just don’t look like they fit! They do look quite unique. However, somewhere in town, there will be a corner, a street or a park where these children gather. When you see a crowd of twenty or thirty “Goths”, they don’t look so unique anymore – they all look the same! This is a good example of how teenagers are beginning to identify more with other people of the same age as themselves than they are with their families.
Developing these new connections and trying to separate themselves to some extent from their families is the basis of much of the disturbance, which occurs at this time in life. In addition, families, or more specifically, parents, represent authority and control. As teenagers try to separate themselves from the family controls they can become overtly rebellious. In fact, a general rebellion against authority of all kinds is quite common during these years. This rebelliousness can have quite a destructive or even violent quality in some teenagers.
However, these teens are still children too. They still need to love and be loved and they still have plenty of playfulness and curiosity. In fact, just as children are often more imaginative than adults, so we see that teenagers have active imaginations and can often be highly idealistic.
At best then, this is a time of first love, of intense, passionate relationships, a time of high ideals and of a drive to discover new ways of experiencing life. At worst, the tensions produce self-doubt, fed by broken relationships, lost loves and disappointments, which lead to melancholy and even depressive or self-destructive experiences.
These issues are not, however, the only ones facing teenagers. We change all the time. Our bodies are always changing. We see this most obviously in the first couple of decades of life where little children quickly grow taller. Not only are their bodies growing and maturing however, so are their personalities. We watch our children develop new skills week by week throughout the first years of life, and this development continues apace throughout the teens. However, there is the addition of a crucially important element at this time – the sex hormones. Puberty brings about enormous changes in the shape of these children’s bodies. Boys’ voices “break” and they begin to develop body and facial hair. Girls begin to menstruate and to develop breasts and body hair. In addition the surging hormones impact the skin and many teenagers experience the sufferings of the plague of acne.
Amongst the common health problems in these years, therefore, are skin complaints, menstrual difficulties and emotional/ behavioural problems.
In the conditions, which are strongly physical, like acne and menstrual problems, homeopathic medicines can help stimulate the healing system to deal with the hormonal changes naturally and so reduce the harmful impacts on the body that produce these problems. In addition, however, reading the narratives of some “constitutional” homeopathic medicines which are commonly indicated at this time will not only help the teenager holistically but will help his or her parents to understand them better. A “constitutional” medicine is one, which closely matches a wide range of features in the patient’s experience. Not just particular symptoms, which are being experienced but sensitivities and ways of coping also. Here are some of the more common ones. Maybe you will recognize a teenager you know in one of these descriptions.
These are children who are often described as “unusually compassionate”. This can make them stand out from others and even seem a bit eccentric. They have their own ways of doing things, but because of their caring attitude, this difference is not generally perceived by others as a bad thing. If these children are struck with self-doubt then things begin to change dramatically. They start to close down and withdraw.
What kinds of events might produce this change? The grief of the loss of a loved one – not necessarily a death in the family, but the loss of the first love. Moving house, particularly to another area altogether where they have to make new connections and new friends. At this time they can become significantly homesick. Or it might be a physical event, like a head injury. This closing downstate is typified by moroseness, grumpiness, and ill-temper.
They lose all their motivation and say that nothing interests them anymore. Expressions of sympathy and attention just seem to make them worse by making them more aware of their distress. This state is accompanied by a slowing up, seen not only in apathy, but in a slowing of their speech. They are reluctant to talk, speak slowly, if at all, and even seem to think slowly. Throughout this they maintain that strong sense of individuality and express that through dress. Often what they wear, others find strange, or “inappropriate”. They can become quite obsessed with death and dying and withdraw into their own imaginary worlds.
Cina children are bright, imaginative and fun when well, but we rarely see them in this state. When they become unwell they develop a real dissatisfaction with everything, which is expressed through what are typically described as “ugly” moods. When upset, rather than withdrawing like the Helleborus children, these children make a noise about it. They complain and they complain loudly. They are in a very uncomfortable state where they don’t want to be ignored but they don’t want attention either – really, there is no pleasing them!
These are children who can develop tics and spasms, or even epileptic type “absences”. They, too, have active imaginations and can become quite disturbed, especially at night, when they are active dreamers and will talk or even scream in their sleep.
In previous articles we have seen that Tuberculinum can be a common remedy in young children and even toddlers and here in the teenage years it is also common. The typical teenager who needs this remedy is restless, stubborn and very rebellious. They can be quite malicious, or even destructive when they are angry. They are continuously kicking against any idea of authority and yet are highly idealistic, even romantic, in their thinking.
These are the kids who identify with political revolutionaries, and who, in times past, would put up posters of Che Guevara and Chairman Mao on their bedroom walls – not so common these days! They might identify with other “rebels”. The punk rock movement attracted a lot of these kids (although it also attracted many other teenagers who needed quite different homeopathic medicines!). Despite their anger and their restlessness, they still have many fears and these might be quite specific – dogs, thunderstorms, darkness, for example…
……Want to read more? Stay tuned for part two next week!
Disclaimer: Please remember your Scope of Practice, if you are ever in doubt, please contact your local GP or Qualified Homeopath.
The British Homeopathic Association
About the Author:
Bob Leckridge MBChB FFHom graduated from Edinburgh University in 1978 and worked as a GP until 1995 since when he has worked full-time as a Specialist in Homeopathic Medicine at Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital. He teaches homeopathy internationally and is the author of Homeopathy in Primary Care. He became President of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1998.