The Myers begin with sketches of four depressed adolescents--a ""perfect"" girl, a boy who's a popular top athlete and class...



The Myers begin with sketches of four depressed adolescents--a ""perfect"" girl, a boy who's a popular top athlete and class officer, a juvenile delinquent, and a grind--to illustrate that depression doesn't always manifest itself in the moping, ""chin-on-the-ground syndrome."" What follows, though, is mostly a review of the commonly cited problems of adolescents in general and--annoyingly if you don't fit the stereotypes or recognize their application--of ""you"" the reader. There is a straight rendition of the Freudian scenario of sexual development (""family romance,"" latency pergod, etc.), complete with traditional assumptions about the way things are. (Despite insertions about the mother's possible ""career"" and much ado about changing patterns, the typical mother of the Myers' examples cooks and cleans house; father is off at work or recreational sports; dishes are done by mother or daughter while Dad or Sonny mows the lawn and takes out garbage; and girls who excel in science or math are ""tomboys"" in rebellion against sexist restrictions.) As to how things were, we have frozen stereotypes exaggerating the sex-role rigidity of a generation or two ago: Males knew they would grow up to follow sports and ""bring home the bacon"" and the girls, subservient wives, would cook, sew, and have babies, ""no doubt about it""; only now, we're told, are boys and men ""beginning to feel it is permissible to enjoy art and ballet."" In similar generalities, the Myers purvey usual, reasonable guidance-book messages: that the adolescent's main job is gradual separation from the nest; that this inevitably involves a struggle; and that today's changing values are confusing and teens' changing bodies disturbing. To connect this with depression, they cast these adolescent problems as a ""loss"" of childhood security, emotional and otherwise. The loss occasions mourning (and so we have the ""stages"" of mourning), and depression is a ""mourning process gone askew."" Very possibly sessions with Mrs. Myers (a therapist), in which she applied those ideas to the case in hand, would help a depressed teenager. But it is hard to imagine anyone who is really depressed bothering to wade through all these banal generalizations, let alone take them to heart.

Pub Date: June 2, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Scribners

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1982