Medicine, Mind and Adolescence, 1993 - 1994 - VIII, 2 - IX,1

Adolescence: A New Birth into Life

Carlo Casini

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Adolescence can be considered a second birth: just as a new-born leaves the womb and begins his conversation with the world, an adolescent starts living his life in a new way. This different dimension is characterized, first, by the ability to see reality with new eyes, in its intimacy, in its spiritual sense that transcends the material one. Secondly, the adolescent starts to become autonomous, not only in a physical way, like the child that ceases to depend on his mother, but also in an intellectual sense, a critical and sentimental sense. For this reason adolescence is the time in which man, as he begins his formation, has to become aware of himself and become a creator of his ego and destiny.

However this self-realization must not be understood in an egocentric sense, but in a social sense, meaning also the ability to interact with others, because only in this dimension can the human being be fully realized.

Self-realization has also to be intended as a search for the sense of life, of a foundation on which to build and build oneself. What is this foot stone that lights up the mystery of life, the question on the reasons of existence? Only the experience of love can fill the heart of who, like the adolescent, asks this question.

Love can make life an unique, unrepeatable experience, fulfilling thus the adolescent's strong need of individuality. This theme is strictly connected to projectuality, to the realization of a story different from all the others.

This can be obtained not only with great action worthy of historical memory, but also and above all with the simple experience of the family. It is fundamental for the human growth of the adolescent because only in the family's culture can he believe in truth and love and discover the sense of his life. In this way the youth can become a real man, not an abort of a person that is an unrealised being. By maintaining and developing deep human desires of God, of the absolute and infinite, the lack of which is so dramatic today, we could remain young even if time goes by.

If this question on life's meaning exists and if answers exist on the experience of love and on the sense of absolute, then it is impossible to think that man's ultimate reason could be death as an end and failure. If this were true, then all would be relative, only transitional pleasure would be important.

By thinking of mankind as a goal it is possible to come out of the loneliness and to become a person with a history and a constructive relationship.

What can be done for youths that face for the first time questions like these, so important for life as a whole?

The realization of the Declaration of youth's rights and duties would imply a deep transformation at a global level in politics and culture. It would be necessary to start from the family, that is the cradle where deep questions of today's adolescents and tomorrow's men can find fertile ground, giving value to this institution as it has been underlined by the proclamation of 1994 as International Year of the Family.

Carlo Casini: "Adolescence: a new birth into life". Introduction to the First International Congress of Adolescentology, Assisi, Italy, October 22-24, 1993.

Key Words: Adolescence, Life, Self-realization, Love, Youth's Universal Declaration, Experience of Love

Carlo Casini: Membro del Parlamento Italiano e Europeo, Presidente del Movimento per la Vita.

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