If any phase of the life cycle embodies the innate human urge to be
free, it is surely that of adolescence. In this phase, the
individuation process begun in the second year of life is sharply
accelerated by major advances in self-direction and self-reliance,
energized and reconfigured by the hormonal changes of puberty.
The individuation process of adolescence lays the groundwork for a core
identity function basic to western individualism: the young person's
growing perception of himself as the owner of his mind and body and the
corollary conviction that he is entitled to a life of his own. He
understands that this life is to be lived in voluntary cooperation with
others of his choice, not in servitude to unknown masses through the
offices of government. In large part, this perception grows out of the
adolescent's exercise of free choice in ever widening domains,
energetically choosing as he wishes among persons, things and values.
He realizes that he is increasingly autonomous, an agent willing and
able to act independently of others. To an ever greater extent he
constructs his own views of the world, generates his own goals, and
creates and implements his own plans. The adolescent has a growing
sense of the ownership of his mind's doings and of his own
significance. He realizes more than ever that he can make things
happen for good or bad in a manner and to an extent that he could not
imagine as a younger child. And because his growing strength of will
and body make him a force that must be considered, he cannot be brushed
aside with impunity.