Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

by Daniel J. Siegel

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101631522
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/07/2014
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 143,966
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding codirector of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute. He is also coauthor of Parenting from the Inside Out and The Whole-Brain Child, and the proud father of two children in their twenties.

Read an Excerpt

The Benefits and Challenges of Adolescence
 
The essential features of adolescence emerge because of healthy, natural changes in the brain. Since the brain influences both our minds and our relationships, knowing about the brain can help us with our inner experience and our social connections. In our journey I’ll show how this understanding, and learning the steps to strengthen the brain in practical ways, can help us build a more resilient mind and more rewarding relationships with others.
 
During the teen years, our minds change in the way we remember, think, reason, focus attention, make decisions, and relate to others. From around age twelve to age twenty-four, there is a burst of growth and maturation taking place as never before in our lives. Understanding the nature of these changes can help us create a more positive and productive life journey.
 
I’m the father of two adolescents. I also work as a physician in the practice of child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry, helping kids, teens, adults, couples, and families make sense of this exciting time in life. In addition to working as a psychotherapist, I also teach about mental health. What has struck me in each of these roles is that there is no book available that reveals the view that the adolescent period of life is in reality the one with the most power for courage and creativity. Life is on fire when we hit our teens. And these changes are not something to avoid or just get through, but to encourage. Brainstorm was born from the need to focus on the positive essence of this period of life for adolescents and for adults.
 
While the adolescent years may be challenging, the changes in the brain that help support the unique emergence of the adolescent mind can create qualities in us that help not only during our adolescent years, if used wisely, but also as we enter adulthood and live fully as an adult. How we navigate the adolescent years has a direct impact on how we’ll live the rest of our lives. Those creative qualities also can help our larger world, offering new insights and innovations that naturally emerge from the push back against the status quo and from the energy of the teen years.
 
For every new way of thinking and feeling and behaving with its positive potential, there is also a possible downside. Yet there is a way to learn how to make the most of the important positive qualities of the teenage mind during adolescence and to use those qualities well in the adult years that come later.
 
Brain changes during the early teen years set up four qualities of our minds during adolescence: novelty seeking, social engagement, increased emotional intensity, and creative exploration. There are changes in the fundamental circuits of the brain that make the adolescent period different from childhood. These changes affect how teens seek rewards in trying new things, connect with their peers in different ways, feel more intense emotions, and push back on the existing ways of doing things to create new ways of being in the world. Each of these changes is necessary to create the important shifts that happen in our thinking, feeling, interacting, and decision making during our adolescence. Yes, these positive changes have negative possibilities, too. Let’s see how each of these four features of the adolescent brain’s growth has both upsides and downsides, and how they fill our lives with both benefits and risks.
 
1. Novelty seeking emerges from an increased drive for rewards in the circuits of the adolescent brain that creates the inner motivation to try something new and feel life more fully, creating more engagement in life. Downside: Sensation seeking and risk taking that overemphasize the thrill and downplay the risk result in dangerous behaviors and injury. Impulsivity can turn an idea into an action without pause to reflect on the consequences. Upside: Being open to change and living passionately emerge, as the exploration of novelty is honed into a fascination for life and a drive to design new ways of doing things and living with a sense of adventure.
 
2. Social engagement enhances peer connectedness and creates new friendships. Downside: Teens isolated from adults and surrounded only by other teens have increased-risk behavior, and the total rejection of adults and adult knowledge and reasoning increases those risks. Upside: The drive for social connection leads to the creation of supportive relationships that are the research-proven best predictors of well-being, longevity, and happiness throughout the life span.
 
3. Increased emotional intensity gives an enhanced vitality to life. Downside: Intense emotion may rule the day, leading to impulsivity, moodiness, and extreme, sometimes unhelpful, reactivity. Upside: Life lived with emotional intensity can be filled with energy and a sense of vital drive that give an exuberance and zest for being alive on the planet.
 
 4. Creative exploration with an expanded sense of consciousness. An adolescent’s new conceptual thinking and abstract reasoning allow questioning of the status quo, approaching problems with “out of the box” strategies, the creation of new ideas, and the emergence of innovation. Downside: Searching for the meaning of life during the teen years can lead to a crisis of identity, vulnerability to peer pressure, and a lack of direction and purpose. Upside: If the mind can hold on to thinking and imagining and perceiving the world in new ways within consciousness, of creatively exploring the spectrum of experiences that are possible, the sense of being in a rut that can sometimes pervade adult life can be minimized and instead an experience of the “ordinary being extraordinary” can be cultivated. Not a bad strategy for living a full life!
 
While we can brainstorm lots of new ideas inside us that we can share collaboratively during the creative explorations and novelty seeking of adolescence, we can also enter another kind of brainstorm as we lose our coordination and balance and our emotions act like a tsunami, flooding us with feelings. That’s when we get filled with not only mental excitement but also with mental confusion. Adolescence involves both types of brainstorms.
                              
In a nutshell, the brain changes of adolescence offer both risk and opportunity. How we navigate the waters of adolescence—as young individuals on the journey or as adults walking with them—can help guide the ship that is our life into treacherous places or into exciting adventures. The decision is ours.

Table of Contents

Part I The Essence of Adolescence 1

The Benefits and Challenges of Adolescence 6

Maintaining the Power and Purpose of the Adolescent Mind into Adulthood 9

Adolescence from the Inside Out 13

Risk and Reward 18

Pushing Away 23

The Timing of Puberty, Sexuality, and Adolescence 25

The Stress and Distress of Our Extended Adolescence 27

Adolescent Transitions and the Centrality of Our Relationships 30

Mindsight Tools #1 Seeing and Shaping the Sea Inside 39

Three Basic Kinds of Mindsight Maps 42

Seeing Inside the Sea Inside 44

Mindsight Practice A Insight and SIFTing the Mind 47

Physical Sight of the Material World Versus Mindsight of the Inner World 48

Mindsight Practice B Mindsight Illuminated 51

Empathy 52

Mindsight Practice C Empathy 54

Integration 54

Mindsight Practice D Sensing the Harmony of Integration 58

When Integration Is Not Present: Chaos or Rigidity 59

Mindsight Practice E Name It to Tame It 60

Mindsight Practice F Detecting Chaos or Rigidity and Balancing the Mind 61

Mindsight Strengthens the Mind, the Brain, and Our Relationships 63

Part II Your Brain 65

Dopamine, Decisions, and the Drive for Reward 67

Family, Friends, and Fooling Around 72

The Purpose of Adolescence 74

Making Decisions 77

"Don't Do It" Doesn't Do It: The Power of Promoting the Positive 80

Integrating Your Brain 81

A Handy Model of the Brain 85

Adolescence as the Gateway to Creative Exploration 89

Creating Collaboration Across the Generations 95

Vulnerability and Opportunity 97

The Remodeling Brain and Flipping Our Lids 101

Adolescence Builds Integration in the Brain 105

The Emotional Lower Brain 106

Hardwired for Adventure and Connection 108

Mindsight Tools #2 Time-In 111

Time-In, Mindsight, and Mindful Awareness 112

Being Present for What Is Happening as It Is Happening 117

Mindsight Practice A Breath Awareness 119

Building Mindsight's Lens 126

Integrating Consciousness with the Wheel of Awareness 128

Mindsight Practice B The Wheel of Awareness 131

Reflecting on the Wheel 136

Part III Your Attachments 139

Safe Harbor and Launching Pad 144

The Ways We Attach 149

The Secure Model 150

The Avoidant Model 151

The Ambivalent Model 153

The Disorganized Model 154

Reactive Attachment 155

Earning Secure Attachment and Integrating the Brain 156

Reflecting on Your Attachments and Making Sense of Your Life 161

Questions for Reflection on Attachment 163 Our Attachment Narratives and the Two Sides of the Brain 168

Avoidance, Emotional Distance, and the Left Side of the Brain 177

Ambivalence, Emotional Confusion, and the Right Side of the Brain 184

Disorganized Attachment and a Dissociating Brain 190

Creating a Safe Harbor and Launching Pad for Adolescents 191

Mindsight Tools #3 Time-Between and Reflective Conversation 201

Making Sense of How Our Models Shape Our Present 203

Mindsight Practice A Reflecting on How Your Attachment Models Shape Your Reflective Conversations 206

Reflection, Integration, and the Origins of Empathy 207

Mindsight Practice B Reflective Conversations 210

The PART We Play in Creating Ourselves in Relationships 212

Mindsight Practice C Repairing Ruptures 213

Part IV Staying Present Through Changes and Challenges 217

Honoring the Person an Adolescent Is Becoming 219

Leaving Home 221

Puberty, Sexuality, and Identity 228

Hooking Up 233

Romance and First Love 235

First Be Present 242

Changes and Challenges to Integration 245

Acceptance, Letting Go of Expectations, and Sexual Orientation 247

Drug Use or Abuse? 261

Returning Home: Reflection, Realignment, and Repairing Ruptures 273

Mindsight Tools #4 The Mindsight Simple Seven 281

Mindsight Practice A Time-In 282

Mindsight Practice B Sleep Time 284

Mindsight Practice C Focus Time 287

Mindsight Practice D Downtime 290

Mindsight Practice E Playtime 291

Mindsight Practice F Physical Time 294

Mindsight Practice G Connecting Time 295

Conclusion: MWe and the Integration of Identity 299

Acknowledgments 308

Index 310

What People are Saying About This

Deepak Chopra

Brainstorm is a must read book for every parent if they want to avoid emotional turbulence in their own lives as their children go through adolescence. It's lifesaving for the whole family. --DEEPAK CHOPRA, MD

Goldie Hawn

Brainstorm is a necessary look at why adolescents do what they do... The information that Dr. Dan Siegel shares is not only invaluable for understanding your growing child's brain, but helps build more compassion and patience. --Goldie Hawn

From the Publisher

"Brainstorm is a must read book for every parent if they want to avoid emotional turbulence in their own lives as their children go through adolescence. It's lifesaving for the whole family."
—Deepak Chopra, MD

Brainstorm is eye-opening and inspiring, a great gift to us all—teens, parents of teens, and anyone who wants a full and rich life on this planet. Daniel Siegel shows how the supposed downsides of the teen years all have upsides, and that the lessons for living that await teens are ones any of us, at any age, can learn from.”
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
 
"Siegel emerges as a bighearted writer, fully convinced that we all possess the fundamental virtues to navigate the choppy waters of adolescence, and he is eager for us to set them loose, working with adolescents to cultivate the positive aspects—and he is hugely convincing of the intense engagement and creativity that often accompany this time period in a person’s life. Smart advice...on providing the most supportive and brain-healthy environment during the tumultuous years of adolescence."
—KIRKUS REVIEWS

“This book is chock-full of cutting-edge knowledge as well as a deep compassion for teenagers, the adults they will become, and the teenagers in all of us.”
Alanis Morisette

Brainstorm is a necessary look at why adolescents do what they do that can put parents in an emotional frenzy. The information that Dr. Dan Siegel shares is not only invaluable for understanding your growing child's brain, but helps build more compassion and patience. A gift for us all.”
—Goldie Hawn
 
"By the end of this book, the teenager has been transformed from a monstrous force into a thinking, feeling, and entirely approachable human being."
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“I strongly recommend Brainstorm to teens and those who care for them.”
—Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia

“‘You just don’t get me’ is a common refrain from teenagers to their parents and teachers. Adolescents who read this book will discover that Daniel Siegel gets them . . . This respectfulness is why the book works so well as a manual for adolescents, as well as for their parents and mentors.”
Lawrence Cohen, author of The Opposite of Worry

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Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for all. Even if you are not a parent, this book will give you some useful ways to better interact with this population.
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MomsChoiceAwards More than 1 year ago
A recipient of the Mom's Choice Awards! The Mom's Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for parents and educators and is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. Using a rigorous evaluation process, entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media trust the MCA Honoring Excellence seal when selecting quality products and services for families and children.