Young Adulthood Dialogues

happy_healthy_womanWhy is early adulthood often considered “the prime of life”?

Early adulthood is the developmental stage from about age 20 to age 35. It is generally considered the ‘prime of life’ as the young individual is emerging from adolescence with a well-established sense of Identity and can approach life with determination and self-esteem. Also, during this period, young adults are physically stronger and healthier that any of the other stages to follow. It is the time of pursuing one’s dreams and enjoying the comfort of cozy, meaningful and loving relationships.

When are the norms and peaks for height and weight for both men and women reached?

For females, maximum height is reached at about age 16, while males still undergo the process up until age 18. However, in some cases, skeletal growth may continue in people’s early 20s. Fat accumulation and muscle growth continue into the early 20s as well. It is then that males reach full upper-arm and shoulder size, while females reach their full hip and breast size. This developmental stage can be identified with one’s growing physical strength that reaches its peak around the age of 30. Physical endurance, strength and stamina are the norm in this stage. In addition, all of the body systems (digestive, respiratory, sexual-reproductive, circulatory) function at their optimal levels.

What are senescence and organ reserves?

Generally speaking, senescence is a hallmark through adulthood. It is a state of physical decline (that usually starts around the 30s) where the body gradually loses its strength and efficiency with age. Senescence goes hand in hand and can be partly explained with the decline of organ reserve with age. Organ reserve stands for the extra capacity each organ has to withstand the critical moments of prolonged, or extreme stress. With advancing age, organ reserve gradually declines.


What is infertility and what are some of the new technologies for dealing with it?

Infertility explains the lack of successful pregnancy after at least one year of regular intercourse without any contraception. There are many personal, social and also environmental factors that may stand behind it. Fortunately, Assistive Reproductive Technology is widely used nowadays, using numerous artificial methods to achieve or facilitate pregnancy. Some of these methods are:

In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) – a medically developed technique in which the egg cell is being fertilized outside of the woman’s body. This method has proven to be very efficient for couples suffering infertility when other attempts  of achieving conception have tailed. The in-vitro fertilization requires removing the ova from the woman’s ovaries. Then, when put in a fluid, the egg is being fertilized by the sperm. Finally, the zygote is put back in the woman’s uterus so that pregnancy is established. Still being an expensive procedure, in-vitro fertilization is usually performed after other attempts to get pregnant have failed.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – a procedure that is very effective in cases when male infertility implies low or very low sperm count. In this method a single sperm is taken and injected directly in the middle of the egg cell with the help of a micro needle.

What is body mass index (BMI)?

Body mass index is the ratio between one’s weight and height (using the Metric measures). It is supposed to be very accurate for both men and women and is claimed to be a reliable indicator for one’s general condition and fitness.

Personally I think that as accurate as it may be for the general population MBI calculation is not always reliable criterion. For example, it does not consider variables such as body and bone structure, levels of physical activity, etc.

What are some major health problems in young adulthood?

Encountering the numerous social pressures of adult life and trying to deal with emotional problems, young adults often suffer clinical depression, drug and alcohol abuse. Eating disorders are particularly common among females. Also, young adulthood is, typically, the onset stage for many psychological disorders (some of them being very severe, like Schizophrenia). Many of the Personality disorders become clearly expressed in early adulthood as well. Still, health problems are not really common among young adults. However, violence (especially among males) is a major cause for injuries and even death.

What are the most common types of eating disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa is generally described as ‘self-starvation’. Usually, the person who is suffering Anorexia is voluntarily eating too little and/or exercising too much. The victims hold a distorted image of themselves, always seeing their bodies as ‘unattractive’ and ‘fat’ and deny the problems of not eating. Most often, victims refuse to maintain body weight of at least 85% of what is considered to be normal for their age. Anorexia Nervosa is a very serious condition and between 5% and 20% of its victims die because of it. The severity of the disease caused it to be characterized in the DMS-IV as one of 6a00e550231d86883400e553b67b6a8834-800withe eating disorders.

Bulimia Nervosa is yet another eating disorder described in the DSM-IV. Once again, victims have a distorted self-image and are overly preoccupied with the way their body looks. The disorder is characterized by episodes of bingeing and then purging (induced vomiting or use of laxatives). In order to meet the criteria for the disorder, these episodes should occur at least once a week for three months.

Both Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa are seen more often among females, although there have been a slight percent of male victims.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is more common among males. It is characterized by the preoccupation with working out, gaining muscle mass and reducing body fat. Once again, victims have an unrealistic body image and tend to abuse steroids.

Why is male violence during young adulthood such a problem?

Unfortunately, male violence appears to be very common in Early Adulthood, taking a lot of victims. It is a serious problem, because it is among the major causes of death and serious injuries that does not allow young adults to enjoy the healthy life of this developmental stage. The statistics showing that almost 1% of young adults in the United States (between ages 15 and 25) die violently is very disturbing. It is incredibly sad that the world loses people in the prime of their life to homicide, suicide or motorcycle accidents.


What is cognitive flexibility?

Cognitive flexibility is probably the main characteristic in young adults’ cognition. It explains their awareness of the fact that each and every problem has a number of possible solutions and that every individual has a personal opinion that may reflect only one side of an issue. This cognitive flexibility also stands for the better coping skills of young adults and their ability to contemplate different perspectives, opinions and analyze multiple possible solutions. It also explains creativity.


What are the effects of college on the young adults?

Psychologist and textbook writer Kathleen Berger explains a very important aspect of college life. After carefully explaining and considering anxiety and disidentification she is drawing the important conclusion – that hard work during the years spent in college results in deeper and more dialectical thought of reasoning. Dialectical thought is probably the most advance cognitive process which involves thinking about a thesis and antithesis. It also involves Hegel’s philosophical concept that each and every truth or idea has implanted within itself the exact opposite. Thus, young adults are capable of considering multiple choices and points of view, coming up with their own thesis, considering an antithesis and combining them in a synthesis. Ideally, all of these processes are being strengthened in college, as the person encounters many new fields of information, gets involved in hot debates in search of the ‘truth’, and may spend months or years in researching a single problem. Needless to say, college improves one’s reading and analytical skills.


What can be a central challenge of this time period?

According to psychologist Erik Erikson, the central developmental challenge in young adulthood is Intimacy vs. Isolation. Erikson explains that people in this stage desire to form meaningful relationships where they can love and be loved, sharing their personal life. However, this can happen after the person has emerged Adolescence with a secure sense of Self/ Identity. Otherwise, one is at risk of suffering isolation and loneliness. Not being able to answer the question “Who am I?” can easily explain why sharing and being committed to someone else is difficult.

Why is intimacy so important?

Intimacy is a physical, mental and emotional state of total sharing with another individual, where the relationship is strengthened by attachment and physical proximity. Intimacy is not only associated with physical attractiveness or sexuality, but also with platonic feelings of love and closeness. To a great extent, it is a ‘two-way-street’ and can truly be accomplished only of it is shared by the two people in the relationship.

Since relationships are so important, what are the gateways to friendship? What are exclusion criteria?

There are many qualities in a person that we consciously and/or unconsciously consider before establishing any sort of relationship with them. Often, proximity in appearance, physical attractiveness, social status, level of intelligence and moral values are among these qualities. Exclusion criteria are the person’s reasons for excluding certain people from their circle of friends and/or partners. These are strictly personal and therefore, may vary greatly from one individual, to another.


What are some gender differences in friendships?

The general differences that men and women have are easily transmitted in the friendships that they have. Women, in their friendships, tend to talk about their feelings, intimate relationships, problems in the family and with their loved ones, personal fears, wishes and difficulties. On the other hand, men tend to bond around a mutual hobby or interest that they have. Usually, that is sports, cars, politics or their work. From my personal observations, I dare say that it almost seems as if men work hard to avoid sharing. It is funny, how many men may seem scared if you confront them with a personal question, even if you are a friend. Many of my good friends are boys and I have noticed that they are able to confide better with a woman than with another man.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of co-habitation?

Living together with a significant other, without marriage can be viewed as a way to strengthen the relationship and help you really get to know each other. However, I was surprised to read about all the drawbacks that author Kathleen Berger points out. Obviously, research shows that co-habitations bring more stress and less financial satisfaction. Also, it appears that health problems, physical abuse and alcohol abuse are more common among co-habitants that among married people.

What are some of the contemporary changes in marriage?

The number of people who get married has dropped dramatically over the past century. Statistics show that almost a half of all births are to single mothers and in another 20%, the conception has taken place before the actual marriage. Less and less people in young adulthood tend to get married, as the average age is increasing. Shockingly, the divorce rate is 49% of the marriage rate. All of these contemporary changes really imply little faith in the marriage institution.


What is homogamy?

Homogamy exists in the relationship of two individuals when they share mutual values, goals, interests, socio-economic status, ethnical and social background and religion.

What is patriarchal terrorism and how does it relate to spouse abuse?

Spouse abuse as well as common couple violence appears to be very common in relationships. This is often explained with the huge amount of stress that people suffer every day. Sometimes, violence is just a part of one’s cultural or/and personal background which makes it a repeatable pattern. Patriarchal Terrorism stands for a type of spouse abuse where the husband (usually) is using violent methods to degrade, punish or isolate his wife, thus making her feel vulnerable and helpless. This, then, strengthens his sense of superiority.

What is generativity?

Generativity is an essential theme throughout adulthood (and also one Erikson’s developmental challenges in life). It stands for one’s desire to be active, effective and functioning at his/her peak. It is the motivation behind personal and professional accomplishments and pursuing goals.

What is “the social clock” ?

The concept of the ‘social clock’ explains the expectations that a society holds as to what roles should be appropriate for a particular developmental stage. These, however, may vary incredibly from one culture to another and is usually very hard to change, as it is already deeply implanted in the culture and the peoples’ historical background which had shaped them as a society. In many parts of the world it is well accepted that children as old as 10 should take care of their siblings or work in the fields, whereas such practice would be unacceptable or even punished by the law in the United States or most European countries. In the same way, in many societies, marriages among young adolescents are encouraged – a practice that might be illegal in other parts of the world.

1 comment for “Young Adulthood Dialogues

  1. June 15, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Insightful and speaks heaps about your personality and thought process. I know earlier I asked about emotional intelligence and self awareness. From a bystander and observer’s perspective, again I’d recommend reading Working with Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence and Primal Leadership. Insightful and resourcesful – there are reasons why girls/young women are better at learning languages, communicating and expressing themselves – their sports, the way they interact with one another versus how men engage in sports and interact with another varies during their teenage ways that has an impact on their behavior during the later stages of their life (post-teenage years) across the board: communication, leadership abilities, empathy and social skills among few.

    Also, if you’re interested in make a change – which, in my view, goes hand in hand with having a strong understanding of a few of the main drivers of human psychology and behavior, please go for it. I’m sure you’ve engaged in meaningful engagements across the board, and actions speak louder than words, but ultimately, this is a capitalist society – Capitalism speaks more than actions alone, for the most part in the U.S.

    I also enjoyed reading your article on children in Pakistan and labor rights/human rights etc. In fact, during my time at UB, in 2005 right after the earthquake event, I held a fund raiser event with Kate Maneva’s help – during that time I was advocating for exactly the issue you raised – children’s rights. However, Save the Children, Red Cross and UB did not feel it was worthwhile engaging with Shehzad Roy (prominent singer in Pakistan) on such issues (whereby you pay children to attend school), since it was not revenue generating.

    At present, again I’m working with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in activities geared towards economic development and poverty alleviation – what are some of the primary drivers against using psychometric testing against measuring enterpreneurial capabilities among those at the base of the pyramid outside of intellectual property rights issues and legal barriers? Capital and money – unless you have prominent sponsors and global brands, such as, Google’s non-profit arm supporting you, it just doesn’t click with private or public sector organizations whether its through private initiatives or public private partnerships –

    Without converting the entire comment or discussion into a comment that solely focuses on the benefits of having a strong business model, for the most part that’s reality. Whether that’s fortunate or unfortunate.

    Kindest and best of regards

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