Adolescence yesterday and today: care issues

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G. Caramia *
(*) Corresponding Author:
G. Caramia | caramiagm@libero.it

Abstract

In ancient Greece, the chronological boundaries of the stages of life hinged upon Solon’s theory of human life as divided into ten seven year stages. At the peak of Latin civilization, the chronological limits of the infant, pueritia and adulescentia were respectively 0-8 years, 8-16 years and 16-17 years, when in a ceremony the adolescent (a term derived from adolescente(m) present participle of the Latin verb adolescere = to grow) wearing the “toga of manhood” is declared an adult (teenager adult) and up to 30 years later iuventus. Throughout the following centuries, the chronological boundaries of the various ages came to acquire only a theoretical worth, since the child, once introduced to the world of work, used to suddenly become an adult. Only in the wave of Humanism in the XVI – XVII century, people started to rediscover the Greek ‘paideia’ (education), the Latin Humanitas’ (recognition and respect towards manhood in every man), and, through the Christian ‘caritas’ (to recognize and to love the son of God in every man) begins a moral vision of childhood, of his weakness and innocence, a reflection of the ‘divine purity’. In this evolution, the twentieth century identifies itself with adolescence, so that history moves from an era devoiced of adolescence to an age in which adolescence appears to be the privileged age: the adolescent is the hero of the twentieth century. Several and many important institutions have proceeded to recognize the essential rights of adolescent care in pediatric departments, but many are still admitted to adult wards with suboptimal therapeutic results, particularly for blood-cancer. The pediatrician, both the family one and the one in the hospital, must be the referees for the health of the adolescent, especially in cases of chronic diseases or in those of psychosocial relevance, following her in the path of the disease especially if other specialists are involved with a view to further investigation, and establishing, since early childhood, communication, dialogue and compliance with her and the whole family. One of the greatest philosophers and sophists of Magna Graecia, Gorgia of Lentini, used to state that the word has tremendous power: it can instill the joy, eliminate pain, enhance compassion, put an end to fear: then be medicine for the suffering. The doctor is in fact, in certain situations of life, a drug for his patient. He is the most widely used drug because drugs are not the only thing that matters: the soul of medicine lies in the relationship, in the communication between the healer and the healed.

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