The Adolescence Invincibility Complex

The period of adolescence (from 13 to 19 years old) is a crucial time in which an individual’s thoughts, personality, behavior, and such start making a shift from childlike and untainted to rebellious and reckless. It’s the perfect time for a teenager to excuse their rash conduct or decisions on their hormones, but sometimes they take it too far—they start to believe they are invincible.

Adolescents tend to partake in dangerous or risky situations, and many people often think that it’s because they are far too gone over their heads and have lost track of reality. But what if the actual reason as to why they do this is purely anatomical and not due to immaturity or irresponsibility?

The Adolescence Invincibility Complex deals with the simple belief that teenagers deem themselves invincible—immortal, even. It delves into why teenagers do what they do, and what pushes them to do it.

Gary L.Wenk, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics at Ohio State University, believes that teenagers act out due to their undeveloped frontal lobes.

“I blame the feelings of immortality of teenagers on the fact that their frontal lobes are not fully working. The reason the frontal lobes are not fully engaged is because they have not yet completed the process of neuronal myelination,” said Wenk to Psychology Today.

The frontal lobe supervises an individual’s judgment or decision-making skills, which is why, when not fully developed, can lead to rash behavior.

“Essentially, your frontal lobes tell you that it’s a bad idea to drink alcohol and drive or to ignore the consequences of taking heroin. When your frontal lobes finally complete their process of myelination, they begin to work properly and you stop doing dangerous things. Most importantly, you stop feeling immortal,” said Wenk.

But even while this typical behavior can be scientifically explained, it is not excused. Knowing that, as a teenager, you can do anything you want and later simply justify it on your frontal lobe being undeveloped, doesn’t mean your behavior is acceptable.

To this day, many teenagers are affected by their reckless decisions: 2,526 teens that were killed in car crashes nationwide (2017), 530 people of confirmed and probable cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes, the women of ages 15-19 who gave birth to around 194,377 babies as of last year, etcetera.


Picture from here.

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