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The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen Hardcover – March 1, 2007

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1884956706 ISBN-10: 188495670X

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Editorial Reviews


Perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift in how we understand the tumultuous time we call adolescence. Dr. Epstein s landmark book may be just what we need to help enhance our understanding of and better serve those moving through this complex period of life. --Drew Pinsky, M.D., Co-Host, Loveline ; medical director, Department of Chemical

This is a profoundly important book. Dr. Epstein is raising issues about our young people that we need to think about and evaluate carefully. Generally, I think the institutions that serve our young are sound, but this book points to some obvious problems most especially the fact that our young people are largely isolated from the adult world. If you care about America s young, this is a must read. --Dr. Joyce Brothers, author & columnist

The Case Against Adolescence is one of the most revolutionary books I have ever read. --Albert Ellis, Ph.D., The Albert Ellis Institute (from the Foreword)

From the Publisher

A revolutionary proposal for raising responsible and happy teenagers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188495670X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884956706
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 83 people found the following review helpful By thelegalalien on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have read Dr. Epstein's interview and an article on the net, and was very excited to get this book. Sadly, while his main idea is liberating and refreshing, the book itself is utterly disappointing. It is full of weak argumentation, selection and substitution of data, poor understanding of cultural context and betrays a certain agenda. In fact, if you are interested in the concept, IMO you can safely skip the book altogether and instead google Dr. Epstein's articles, "The Myth of Teen Brain" and "Trashing Teens" - you'll get the main points and learn about Dr. Epstein novel research methodology, w\o the accompanying eyebrow-raising junk.

Dr. Epstein makes a bad call to foray into the history of childhood in order to support his argument against adolescence. The result is the opposite: he shoots himself in a foot. He follows Aries's controversial "sentimentalist" point of view that the childhood itself had not existed until recently. He cites, e.g., Jean Ledloff's and Margaret Mead's work, which supposedly shows children fully integrated in the adult society, working alongside grown-ups. In reality, Ledloff has observed that yakuana children grouped themselves by age and spend a lot of time with their peers; even the vocabulary of different age groups differed considerably. They certainly weren't expected to perform to adult's standards, i.e., weren't considered fully competent. Mead's and other researcher's extensive studies also showed that the maturity gap - the time period between puberty and the acquisition of full adult responsibilities - has existed in virtually all cultures. It was decidedly much smaller than it is presently in the west, but denying its existence is inaccurate.

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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Helen Smith on April 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
That is the question posed by Robert Epstein in this new and groundbreaking book, "The Case Against Adolescence." As a psychologist who works with teens, I was eagar to read Epstein's book after seeing reviews about it, and I wasn't disappointed. It is a fascinating read, starting with an in-depth history of how adolescence came to be created and from there, Epstein argues strongly against infantilizing our young people and later asks provocative and necessary questions about our teens, such as "Is there really a teen brain?" By the end of the book, there is some prescriptive advice about how our society must change in order to help rediscover the adult in every teen. With all of the teen turmoil and infanitilization of the young that goes on in this country, I was beginning to think that the term "responsible teens" was becoming an oxymoron, but after reading "The Case Against Adolescence," I am hopeful that our society can start back on the path to teaching our teens to be successful adults. If you have kids, read this book, it will change the way that you interact with, and deal with them on a daily basis for the better.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Chantrill on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Robert Epstein's book proposes what our friend Al Gore would probably call a "risky scheme." After a dismal century in which we have progressively infantilized our teenaged youth into crazed adolescence Epstein proposes to end it, not mend it. The evidence shows that young people in their teens are not helpless children, he argues, but capable, resourceful, and creative. The reason young people act like crazy adolescents is that we--the adults of modern western society--have made them that way.

Epstein argues that it is time to end the extended childhood of our children. He proposes that any young person could obtain emancipation routinely by passing competency tests. Once a young person becomes emancipated, of course, they obtain not just their adult rights, but also their adult responsibilities. When you start to think about it, instead of just react to his proposal, you realize that it is a very Big Idea.

Suppose that kids could start work at twelve if they passed a literacy and numeracy competency test. Suppose they could get the right to drink, drive, get married, work, whatever, if they passed the appropriate competency and judgment test. Would this teenage emancipation loose a plague of teenage mayhem upon our nation?

Hardly. In fact the opposite would be true. We would put the monkey on the kids' backs where it belongs. Say, kid, did you just buy alcohol for an unemancipated teen? Your right to purchase alcohol is hereby revoked! Did your parents chuck you out because you were incorrigible? Well, what do you expect? You're grown up now, pal; your parents don't have a legal duty to support you.
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44 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Shuford on April 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Epstein's remarkable commentary, "Let's Abolish High School," in the April 4, 2007, Education Week, in which he argues for "competency-based" schooling --- allowing students who demonstrate the desired knowledge to leave school to join the adult world and for dramatically reduced restrictions on youth participation in the labor market --- is the reason I am buying THE CASE AGAINST ADOLESCENCE.

I agree with Epstein: The present child-labor-law-compulsory schooling regime is an historical aberration. It infantilizes young people, artificially inducing emotional and social turmoil in them and makes them hate school.

In response to standard top-down thinking on the drop out "crisis" in an editorial in the Fayetteville (NC) Observer, I had the following letter published:

Education outside of confinement

Fayetteville Observer

March 11, 2007


"Increasing the legal dropout age from 16 to 17 or even 18 should be the first order of business at the state level," writes the Observer ("Reality Check," March 6).

Your editorial board may want to consider the fate of the child described below, had his state then required school attendance to age 18:

Started school at age 8½. Returned home in tears after three months. Teacher called him "addled." His mother took over, reading with him.

At 12 he persuaded his mother to let him apply for the post of newsboy on the Port Huron to Detroit train (left at 7 a.m., returned at 9:30 p.m.; six-hour layover in Detroit for library time).

He sold fruits and produce from Port Huron to Detroit and evening papers on the return trip. At 15, he bought a printing press and started a train-focused newspaper.
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