versão impressa ISSN 0021-2571
Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità vol.47 no.2 Roma Jan. 2011
BOOK REVIEWS, NOTES AND COMMENTS
L'adolescente prende corpo.
Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy firstname.lastname@example.org
L'adolescente prende corpo. Paola Carbone (Ed.). Roma: Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore; 2010. 283 p. ISBN 978-88-490-0321-5. 22,00.
Troubled adolescents constitute the norm in our society and, despite all the efforts to preserve them from injuries, diseases and mental disturbances, many of them still face difficult situations during the transition between infancy and adulthood. Many of these difficulties stem from the abrupt and sudden bodily modifications that, orchestrated by the rising levels of pubertal hormones, take place during adolescence. In this book, Paola Carbone, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and associate professor at the University of Rome "Sapienza", collected several contributions aimed at clarifying the role of the growing body in the exhibition of age-specific disorders during adolescence. The outcome of this initiative is a comprehensive book on the multifaceted and continuous interactions between the adolescent body and the adolescent brain. The book is subdivided into two main segments: a general introduction and a case study-oriented section.
In the general introduction, the authors introduce several fundamental concepts related to the function of the body during adolescence and to the idiosyncratic nature of psychotherapy conducted with such a specific patient cohort. To give but few examples, in Chapter 1 the authors describe the pivotal function of the body as a mirror of the mental turmoil characterizing the adolescent brain; Chapter 3 deals with the communicatory role of the adolescent body: the meaning of voluntary physical modifications (ranging from tattoos to lesions) is interpreted within such framework; Chapter 5 tackles the specific requirements of the psychoanalytical setting during adolescence; finally, Chapter 6, which we found exceptionally clear, cogent and well-written, integrates adolescent psychological underpinnings with anthropological, evolutionary and physiological grounding. This chapter offers the reader a comprehensive view on the morphological changes that occur during adolescence and sets the frame for the entire book. We would suggest the reader to start from this Chapter and then delve into the more specialist-oriented chapters characterizing the entire volume.
Whilst the first section is principally aimed at offering a broad theoretical framework, the second section presents a series of explicatory clinical case studies describing four core features of adolescence: self-provoked injuries; gender identity; emergency room accidents; psychosomatic diseases and major illnesses. We generally found the second section much more reader-friendly than the first one. Specifically, the extensive use of case studies allows the reader to easily anchor the theoretical background to everyday adolescent troubles. Particularly interesting did we find Chapter 7, where the authors highlight the need to tutor the personnel of the setting to which the adolescent is first referred in case of self-provoked injuries. Specifically, it is herein underscored the need to inform the personnel as to how integrate the adolescent brain into an emergency room setting (e.g. what to do in case of the first encounter). Chapter 8 is also particularly relevant whereby it first distinguishes between self-provoked injuries and harmless physical modifications, and then investigates the mental processes underlying these processes through a systematic survey. Chapters 10 and 11 address the role of the adolescent body in the formation of individual gender identity both from a functional and a dysfunctional view. Homophobia, within the convincing frame introduced by the authors, is originally described as a form of pathology. Chapter 12 then describes the extremely important "Sportello-Giovani" experience: an initiative prompted by a group of therapists aimed at offering psychological support to adolescents deferred to the emergency room in case of accidents.
Many of the topics discussed in this book are both interesting and extremely relevant. However, the multi-author nature of the book presents both advantages and disadvantages. Just as the variety of perspectives certainly constitutes a real strength, so also it sometimes results in a slightly unbalanced and fragmentary description of topics. Thus, whilst some chapters appear accessible to any reader, some others seem to be directed to a highly specialized readership.