The fascinating brain of teen girls

I don’t really know much about the brain of teen girls. As a man, the female psyche must on some level remain for me, as it was for Freud, “a dark continent” (The Question of Lay Analysis, 1926). Freud was prescient enough to know that the mechanisms he studied were the objective mechanisms of identity formation — not the subjective experience itself (the dark continent). He was also progressive enough to warn his fellow analysts against “underestimating the influence of social customs” in discussions of gender and to emphasize that “the proportion in which masculine and feminine are mixed in an individual is subject to quite considerable fluctuations” (Essay on Femininity, 1933).

But enough about Freud. After all the psychology and philosophy and literature I’ve read, I think my daughter (I believe 14 at the time) most succinctly expressed, by accident one day, exactly what it feels like to be a teenage girl. We were wandering a city in Spain — Barcelona, Madrid, I forget which city — and were in a green space filled with monuments. I had momentarily lost her, and then I heard her voice near a monument and came back up to her.

“Hey there. What ya doing?” I asked her.

“Singing. And thinking about how weird I look.”

She tossed the line off casually, but I thought that that was it. The rich and contradictory inner life of the teenage girl in a nutshell.

Now I welcome feedback from those of you who actually were teenage girls (and from those of you who weren’t — unlike some of my younger liberal friends, I reject all restrictions on what you are allowed to say, think, or do, based on your demographic identity).

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10 thoughts on “The fascinating brain of teen girls

  1. As one of your older liberal friends, allow me to confirm the shelf-life of richness and contradiction runs well past our teen years, male or female. But what a blessing for you to hear it first-hand from your progeny. Coltrane’s “Naima” is playing on the stereo as I write this. Wishing you more safe and wonderful travels, CB

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    • True about richness and contradiction, Chris, but the form it takes may vary, and cultural determinants may give rough (not exact) demographic associations to the variance. E.g., I don’t think “singing … and thinking about how weird I look” describes me very well at any age — perhaps boys in our culture are less inclined to express the richness and contradiction in exactly those terms (?)

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  2. I was always thinking about how weird I WAS… I don’t know, I felt so lost and hopeless as a teenager. That’s when life gets difficult through no apparent difficult matters… hmhm. I don’t think I fully understand my own teen self, let alone anyone else’s, haha.

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