|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews|100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOf Mice and MetaphorsOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
by Marcel Danesi
University of Toronto Press, 2003
Review by Shelly Marshall, B.S., CSAC on Nov 8th 2004
Beginning with a youthful bang and ending in a
whimper, Marcel Danesi's Forever Young, is billed as providing "concrete
answers on how the Forever Young Syndrome—can be addressed." The Forever
Young Syndrome (FYS), which afflicts many I know, including myself, fascinates,
repels, and embraces me with its promises. This book did the same.
Marcel Danesi is a professor of Semiotics and Anthropology
at the University of Toronto. From reading her work,
I had hoped to gain perspective and a way out of the FYS that has me and most
of the Boomer generation in its grip. So when Chapter One spoke of the manipulative
decaying morality and ethics and how musicians and media have taken over the
role of village leader, I assumed Danesi had a grasp of the problem, the youthingizing
dilemma, and a solution to bestow upon the reader.
In 'Chapter One, The Fountain of Youth' the
authors let us know immediately that the foundation of youth has been
contaminated. She begins by telling us that "juvenilization" is
pervasive because the marketplace and media dictate morals and ethics in our
present day society. We all know that along with pop music came the ever-present
"generation gap" that parents now deal with. What the reader may not
have known is that at this point the first books began emerging in the '50s
about how to live with your teenager, experts began proselytizing on how to
parent them, and we energized a category of development called "adolescence"
that hadn't really been there before.
Every paragraph is packed with excellent
information on how we have created a false stage of development by keeping
humans in a child-like dependent state long past their physical maturation. The
author treats us to history and cultural lessons that should create a
collective guilt complex after reading and will definitely show that we are at
the base of our own problem. Other cultures don't have the same problems as we
do with youth because when a child reaches physical maturity, they are held
accountable as adults—there is no "gap" because there are no teens.
The ground work is fascinating and on a par with
The Nurture Assumption and the conclusions that Judith Rich Harris has espoused.
Today, Dansei says, our artificial creation of the generation gap has led us
to shun the wise elder in favor of "experts rather than grandparents."
The reader is treated to information on our
media driven narcissism in 'Chapter Two, Looking Like Teenagers.' She tells
society that if there is an imbalance today between physical and social maturation,
it is because we expect there to be. We created it, we expect it and thus that
is what we see. I do agree.
The media and our commercial driven society who
target the teenage deep pocket and free time to pursue products and fashion,
apparently because they are not held responsible and have the time to be totally
self-indulgent, have driven us to imitate them. This is where I begin to
question the theories in the book. I agree that because media caters to the
youthful look, and that we no longer revere the village elder that an ideal of
youthful good looks, health, and vigor are what we strive for—but to say that
it is mostly because of commercialism that out society has zeroed in on staying
young, seems hardly real. Somehow, it is implied that if we didn't target teens
in advertising, we wouldn't be suffering from the FYS.
I worry about how in touch the author is with
what's really going on in society. She mentions her conclusions on some issues
that I think are suspect and make me wonder how relevant her other conclusions
are. Am I too unforgiving? For example, she says that in the '60s,we wore jeans
as a symbol of rebellion against society. The sixties was my hey day and we
wore jeans as a symbol of our youth, not rebellion. Our parents wore jeans when
they were young (bobbie soxers), what would we be rebelling against? Kids wore
jeans and were going to stay young—so we continued to wear them when in past generations
we might be in suits and housedresses past the age of 17 or 18. The rebellion
was wearing hip-huggers. No one, however shocked at our belly buttons, was
going to tell us we couldn't. She mentions that smoking for kids is a sexual
activity. What? In all honesty, I began smoking because I wanted to look like
an adult. The author talks about faddism as opposed to true fashion and how the
media and teens have hijacked true fashion, along with everything else decent
in our society, and is at the source of FYS.
There is a good analysis in chapter 2 about the "two-edged
sword," the good and the bad of youthingizing of America.
Bad: Our perverted body images, ashamed of
Good: Can revive stale marriages.
Bad: Devalued family as locus of courtships.
Good: Getting rid of the puritan restrictions.
Bad: Looking young, no matter the cost.
Good: People in the 70's and 80's are not
ashamed to date.
Bad: Media has preyed on the social fear of
Good: Allowed women the right to explore their
After we are left envisioning advertising as a
part and parcel of our "group-think" we arrive at 'Chapter 3, Talking
Like Teens.' At one time, the author tells us, young people were expected to
adopt the more mature adult speech patterns and mannerisms. Today, experts and
parents are striving to sound 'hip' like their kids. We are given a history
lesion in speech, a lesson in slang and its volatileness. The whole chapter on
slang was priceless and interesting. This chapter would make a great course on "Slang:
it's role in shaping modern culture" but it added little to the premise or
promises of getting out of the FYS. 'Chapter 4 Grooving like Teenagers' and 'Chapter
5 Time to Grow Up" summated the wonderful history of teens, pop culture,
music, and how TV has helped spread all this. The upshot of advice from Denesi
is to get rid of adolescence and reconnect to family values. Great advice. How?
Now that we've created this developmental
stage monster called 'adolescence' how can we reverse it? We've spent 30 years
convincing professionals and parents that it exists and tried to tell them how to
handle it, now how do we back out? She also suggests it is media's
responsibility to start upholding family values and revering the elders in
advertising, drama, and other forums. How? These are crucial answers for which
she only hints at the questions.
Of greater importance are the questions that Dr.
Danesi failed to address. What about pedophilia? Has the juvenilization of our society
contributed to the increase in this and if so, what can we do to reverse the
trend? What about parent abuse/elder abuse, has the FYS contributed to this and
how do we , as a society address it? Men want "younger" women (as
seen in beer, car, and cigar commercials, Playboy, proliferation of porno
sites, and Sports Illustrated, special edition calendar issues) and
older women know that. So in order to compete for their men, older women have
to look younger. How do we reach our men and help reverse the trend? How do we
teach them to honor and love the mature woman, the anchor of their lives rather
then chase the trophy?
We are told that "psychology" has
declared ownership of adolescence and I heartily agree. What we are not told is
that "the psychology of men" has declared that young bodies rule.
This book is a wonderful read for why teenagers are in the cultural soup they
are in today. It doesn't do much for helping me understand how to not want to
be young forever.
2004 Shelly Marshall
Shelly Marshall, B.S., CSAC is an Adolescent
Chemical Dependency Specialist and Researcher. You can visit her site at www.day-by-day.org