15 August 2007

Psychological Neoteny in Rich and Poor

Psychological neoteny is perpetual immaturity, an eternal adolescence of incompetent narcissism and dysfunctionality. The US has its Paris Hiltons, Lindsay Lohans, Britney Spears etc. who illustrate the phenomenon well. Unfortunately the problem is not limited to the very rich and famous.

A failure of the prefrontal lobes to mature, is quite common in the developed world. The widespread use of alcohol and mind altering drugs in adolescence is partially to blame--since it is becoming more clear that such adolescent drug use leads to lifelong neurological dysfunction. Is that what is wrong with all of these famous good-for-nothings, and millions more who will never be famous?
The 20s always have been prime time for risky behavior, from binge drinking and unprotected sex to dabbling in drugs and driving too fast. But new brain research suggests young adults may have less control over these impulses: Neurological areas that regulate impulse and emotions are not fully developed until about the mid-20s, findings show.

And recent demographic trends don't help: Young people today are delaying settling down into careers and marriage, both of which tend to reduce risky behaviors, sociologists, psychologists and historians say.

...Scott Stanley, a research professor in psychology at the University of Denver, says many major life decisions that used to be fairly settled are now "up for grabs through their 20s" — from education and career to sexual relationships and partner choices.

This "extended adolescence" increasingly is being acknowledged by those who have focused on teens. For example, in May, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy announced an expansion of its mission to include those in their 20s and 30s.

...Over the past several years, brain studies by researchers around the country, including at the National Institutes of Health, University of Pittsburgh, Harvard Medical School and Temple University, have found that the area that controls impulses takes longer to mature than previously thought.

Greater demands have made the 20s a difficult period, says Frank Furstenberg Jr., a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia whose work has focused on the transition to adulthood.

"It is not well known that this age group does have these elevated problems," he says. "Adolescence has captured so much of the attention of American policymakers."

He says it's even more of a challenge for an estimated 15% to 25% who by early adulthood are "seriously off track."


Perpetual incompetence of narcissistic immaturity. Something to look forward to?

Psychological neoteny and its associated societal dysfunctions, are merely the chickens coming home to roost from the parental substitution of affluence for responsible parenting and guidance. Factory style government education likewise shares the blame, since modern incompetent educational practises make it easy for parents to abdicate responsibility for child-raising to "society."

Brain-damaging drug and alcohol use in adolescence and early adulthood--preventing genuine brain maturation into full functionality--adds to the problem for the wealthy, for celebrities, and the not so famous.

How much attention is this ongoing tragedy receiving from the media, and the educational and psychological establishment? Almost none. The pampered princes and princesses of tenured vacuity are far too busy chasing hobby horses of their own creation. They will simply not be bothered to deal with critical problems in the real world.


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