Doctor uses space flight to explain teens

Dec. 20, 2011 at 12:42 AM
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SYRACUSE, N.Y., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A New York doctor says his book, comparing adolescent development to space flight, is a call to arms against societal pressures that threaten teens' health.

Dr. Robert Michael Cavanaugh, director of adolescent medicine at the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., said "Dying to Be Perfect: How Teens Can Stay Happy, Healthy and Alive," utilizes the three stages of space flight as a metaphor for the stages of adolescence. The book takes readers on an imaginary voyage into the mind of an adolescent, Cavanaugh said.

"It is often not fully appreciated that the brains of young adults are also going through dramatic changes, just like the physical changes in their bodies," Cavanaugh said in a statement. "As with puberty, the maturing of the adolescent mind can be divided into three stages -- early, middle, and late -- each of which is quite different from the other. Teenagers should not be expected to think like adults until this process of development is complete. It must be expected that adolescents will respond to the pressures of daily living in a unique and personal way, which is highly influenced by the stage of mental growth they have reached."

Cavanaugh prepares teens and their parents by explaining the hazards and temptations of each stage.

"Teens have much in common with astronauts, including the need to keep open channels of communication and stay connected to the home base for the best chance of avoiding accidents and completing the mission successfully," Cavanaugh said.

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