François Ladame

How to Become an Adult Publication date : November 23, 2005

Contrary to a widely held notion, problems of identity are not limited to a specific age group, generally defined as that of troubled adolescents trying to adapt as best they can to the difficulties they encounter, such as puberty, the active questioning of the parental model, or the growing role played by their peer group. Problems of identity also concern fully developed adults — or, more accurately, those apparently developed adults who have failed to leave their childhood behind and have been unable to become autonomous. Backed by his long clinical experience, François Ladame shows how the issue of uncertain or crippled identities arises more and more frequently today, and how it concerns all age groups — not only 15-year-olds at the peak of their adolescent crises, but also adults who appear to be socially and professionally integrated, and even elderly people, often with disastrous results. In an age which prefers to break down rather than uphold limits — between genders, generations, even between life and death — how can the construction of one’s personal identity be enhanced? What can be done to develop a powerful sense of existing in one’s own right, independently of inner changes and circumstances? How can children be helped to find their place in the world and to remain themselves in the midst of others? François Ladame is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst specialising in adolescence. He is currently based in Geneva.