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Philippe Gutton

Genius Adolescence

Deeply committed to the study of adolescence for more than thirty years, Philippe Gutton is known for his theoretical and clinical work as well as for the therapeutic methods he has developed.

In this book, he reassesses past research, reappraises some of his earlier theories, sometimes critically, and offers a fresh approach to adolescence based on a new hypothesis that accounts for knowledge acquired over the years. Philippe Gutton argues that adolescence is in essence an act of creation, an experience of creativity. Such terms as “metamorphosis”, “moulting” and “sloughing” have been used in the past to describe the transformations of adolescence. The immense creativity of the adolescent years has also been frequently evoked. But Gutton goes further, arguing that what is at stake is a true act of creation — of which the adolescent is both the object and the creative genius.

The pursuit of originality, the desire for self-expression, the quest for an ideal with which to identify, the urge to dramatise: these traits that characterise artistic creation are also part of the adolescent process of self-creation. According to Gutton, many adolescent forms of behaviour and problems become more comprehensible when they are examined in the light of this new approach.

This is a groundbreaking work on adolescence by a major French expert and pioneering psychoanalyst. The author's goal: to understand more and explain more, so as to be able to offer more and better assistance.

For long adolescence was relatively ignored by psychoanalysts. Françoise Dolto was a notable exception and her contribution was decisive, but her work must be continued. With this book, Philippe Gutton reopens the subject and reveals the wealth of French research on the fragile teenage years — a phase that is more than a simple transition.

This ambitious yet accessible book will shake many preconceived ideas.

Philippe Gutton, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, is a professor of psychopathology at the University of Aix-Marseille-I and the founding director of the magazine Adolescence. He is the author of many books that have become classics in their field, such as Le Pubertaire and Adolescens, and the co-author of Les Mères juives (with A. Naouri and S. Angel, 2005).