Why They Do What
They Do
Understanding Teen Brain
Development
OJDDA Annual Conference
September 20, 2011
Jonathan I. Cloud
Independent Consultant
Decision Points in the Juvenile Justice System
Pre-Arrest or
Referral
Intake
Adjudication
Disposition
PostDisposition
Objectives
Prevent/reduce
delinquency
among youth
over-exposed
to risk factors.
Objectives
Conduct initial
assessment.
Divert from
further formal
action.
Refer for
adjudication.
Prevent more
offending.
Objectives
Conduct more
assessment.
Adjudication.
Determine
innocence or
guilt.
Evaluate and
determine
amenability to
intervention.
Prevent more
offending.
Objectives
Protect the
community.
Hold offender
accountable.
Develop/use
strengths;
address risk,
protection, and
needs.
Prevent more
offending.
Objectives
Protect the
community.
Hold offender
accountable.
Develop/use
strengths.
Reintegrate
with family,
school, peers,
or community.
Prevent more
offending.
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Brain’s Hierarchical
Organization
HIGHER THOUGHT
Prefrontal Lobes
(“Heart”) :
willing, intention,
reflection; spiritual
intelligence or SQ
“The Fourfold Brain”
ACTING
R-System or Core Brain:
instinctive action,
sensing, impulses;
bodily intelligence or BQ
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THINKING
New Mammalian
or Neocortex
(“Human Brain”):
right brain creativity,
left brain logic;
intellectual
intelligence
or IQ
FEELING
Old Mammalian or
Limbic System:
emotions, interaction,
relating; emotional
intelligence or EQ
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The Upward Thrust That Generated Our Brain
(Darwin’s Lost Theory of Love: A Healing Vision for the New Century, David Loye, 2000)
Prefrontal
Lobes
MORAL
AGENCY
Moral Sensitivity
Neocortex
Higher Limbic
System
Sympathy
Reason
Emotion/Passion
Social Instincts
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Lower Limbic
System
Parental Instincts
R-System
Physical and
Sexual Instincts
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Levels of Development
Instinctual Level Isn’t Bad – Was Key to Our Early Survival
Three Perspectives on the Basic Levels of
Development
Levels
3. My Heart
Dabrowski
(Emotional)
Wilber
(Spiritual)
Kohlberg
(Moral)
AutonomyAuthenticity
Worldcentric
Postconventional
ConventionConformity
Ethnocentric
Conventional
EgocentrismAntisociality
Egocentric
Preconventional
2. My Thinking
1. My Instincts
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The Teen Years are About Level Three:
“My Heart”
Adolescents sense a secret, unique
greatness in themselves that seeks
expression. They gesture toward
the heart when trying to express
any of this, a significant clue to the
whole affair.
The nameless lump in the throat
expressed in adolescence is our
primary physical heart longing for
its union with this higher heart.
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Source: Evolution’s End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence, Joseph Chilton
Pearce,
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When the higher
incorporates the
lower into its
service, the nature
of the lower is
transformed into
that of the higher.
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Brain Subsystems to be Incorporated by the Heart:
Transformed into Noble Risk-Taking, Avoidance, and
Pleasure-Seeking Behavior
Seeking
Exploring Behavior
(need for novelty, risk,
and experiences of
competence)
Playing
Vigilance
Engaging Behavior
(need for pleasure and
experiences of
relatedness)
Discovering Behavior
(need for safety and
experiences of
autonomy)
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Many juvenile risk-taking behaviors reflect
normal adolescent development. When
adolescents pursue actions providing “selftranscendent challenges” and “pleasurable
excess” but that are also moderated by a
sense of care and commitment, important
gains such as increased self-confidence,
ability to handle stress and the taking of
initiative are also produced.
Baumrind, 1987
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Brain Subsystems to be Incorporated by the Heart:
Transformed Into Noble Oppositional, Aggressive,
and Angry Behavior
Panic/Pain/Loss
Freeze Behavior
(absent and/or
disorganized
exploring)
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Rage/Anger
Fear
Fight Behavior
(absent and/or
disorganized
engaging)
Flight Behavior
(absent and/or
disorganized
discovering)
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Most of our theories fail to account for
resistance and largely treat it as antisocial . . .
Development of optimal competence and
character in children requires the cultivation
of the ability to responsibly dissent and
accept unpleasant consequences, as well as to
constructively comply with legitimate
authoritative directives.
Nucci, 2005
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Brain Growth Spurts: Gradual Integration of Systems and
Elevating Lower Instincts to Support Noble Pursuits
Prelogical
Lower
Drives
Age
1
Age
4
Operational Logic
Age
7
Age
11
Post-Operational
Age
15
Age
21
R-System (sensing: bodily
intelligence)
Limbic System (feeling/emotional
intelligence)
Right Hemisphere (thinking: creative
intelligence)
Left Hemisphere (thinking: logical intelligence)
Cerebellum (coordinates brain systems; coordinates
attention; integrates brain systems)?
Higher
Drives
Prefrontal Lobes: Stage II
(willing/spiritual intelligence)
Prefrontal Lobes: Stage I (unfolding of one’s gifts, talents, genius; learning and growth)
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The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, Joseph Pearce, 2002, modified
But Progressing to Higher Levels Involves
Disintegrative Dynamics
Thinking: Common Behaviors Seen as Inadequate or Wrong
A consuming life task of the adolescent is to discover or
construct ideal possible selves that reflect one’s potentials
(Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1987; Greene, 1986).
Feeling: Disturbing and Negative Emotional States
For many youth this task is beset with frustration and failure
(Blos, 1967; Erikson, 1968; Flavell, 1963; Harter, 1983).
Acting: Problems in Actively Assimilating Noble Ideals
Through rebellious activity, youth can define themselves as
adventurous, independent, powerful, and bring prestige among
one’s peers (Hirshi, 1969; Sutherland & Cressey, 1978).
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Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration
Secondary Integration:
behavior conforms to noble inner standard; passions, gifts, talents used to
improve environments; sense of mission; union with authentic self
Directed Multilevel Disintegration:
conscious effort to develop strengths and
talents; become who one ought/can to be
Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration:
awareness of higher versus lower goals;
images of ideal self, what one can become
Unilevel Disintegration:
discontent with “what is” and one’s
actual self; questioning of choices/goals
Primary Integration:
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behavior dictated by environmental
forces; primitive survival instincts
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Noble Intent is Inherent
(Lifts Primitive Instinctual Responses to Higher Expressions)
There is a mastery motivation
system inherent in our species,
which is readily observable in
the inclination of young children
to actively engage with the
environment and to experience
pleasure (feelings of efficacy)
from effective interactions. In
other words, competence is
motivated by pleasure in
mastery.
Source: “The Development of Competence in Favorable and Unfavorable Environments: Lessons from Research on Successful
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Children,” Ann S. Masten and J. Douglas Coatsworth, American Psychologist, February 1988
This Noble Intent Seeks Optimal Experiences:
Helping Youth Experience Flow
(Part 1 of 2)
(High)
Challenges
Anxiety
3
Flow
Channel
4
Boredom
1
2
(Low)
(Low)
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Skills
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of
Optimal Experience, 1990
(High)
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Helping Young People Experience Flow:
Challenges Matched with Skills
(Part 2 of 2)
• Experience 1: Low or limited skills matched with challenge
that is not too difficult; pleasurable because difficulty is just
right for skill type/level; in flow.
• Experience 2: Skills improve; less pleasure because task or
activity has become boring or too easy; out of flow.
• Experience 3: Or task or activity becomes too difficult and
absence of pleasure and poor performance cause anxiety;
out of flow.
• Experience 4: Sets a higher, more difficult goal and works to
increase skills to meet the challenge; back in flow.
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Health-Promoting Experiences are Filled With the
Pleasure of Mastery
Joy and pleasure are the bricks and
mortar of physical, psychological, social,
and spiritual development, and the
developing brain must experience joy and
pleasure if the complex integration of
sensations is to take place. When they
are lacking, the brain becomes
“neurodissociative,” one that fragments
rather than integrates experience. As a
result, the adolescent regresses or
dissociates into self-defensiveness.
Joseph Chilton Pearce, 2007
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Extrinsic:
goals dictated
by others
Intrinsic:
goals are selfgenerated
NONINTEGRATED
ACTION
Transient
impulses or
incentives
Developing Interests
SELF-INTEGRATED
ACTION
Environmental
Pressures
Internal
sanctions
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Introjected
shoulds and
oughts
Core Passions
(Sheldon and Elliot, 1999)
Self-identified
values and
convictions
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The Task:
Aligning Contexts With Their Authentic Selves
Authentic Self
(genes, traits, inclinations, gifts and
interests, aptitudes and talents,
intelligences, temperament, passions)
Community
Family
(laws, norms, happenings,
roles for youth, overall social
arrangements, etc.)
(parents, siblings,
extended family, friends
of family members, etc.)
Youth
Institutions
School
(clubs, teams, church,
workplace, camp, public
agencies, etc.)
(teachers, schoolwork,
grades, preparation for
college or workplace, etc.)
Peers
(friends, boy/girlfriend,
classmates, co-workers,
acquaintances, etc.)
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Loss of Authentic Self Often Begins Early
(Primitive Instincts Can’t Be Elevated Later)
Whatever you are by nature,
keep to it, never desert your
line of talent. Be what nature
intended for you and you will
succeed.
Sydney Smith
The underlying pressures to
turn our children toward
careers that offer no continuity
with their childhood lead to a
tragic waste . . .
Richard A. Bowell
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