The Prevailing Origin of Psychological Problems in Young People: A Dissociation from the Future

Simon Andrew Moss, Samuel G. Wilson


Relative to young people several decades ago, young people in industrialized societies today are more likely to experience mood disorders, adopt an external locus of control, violate social norms, and exhibit signs of narcissism. This paper formulates a theory to explain the ultimate source of these problems: a sense of dissociation from the future. Compared with young individuals before the 1970s, young individuals now are embedded in a social environment characterized by unstable roles, status, skills, and reputation. Accordingly, young people today feel their identity in the future may diverge considerably from their identity now. According to socioemotional selectivity, psychological connectedness, and meaning maintenance theory, this dissociation from the future is likely to explain many of the characteristic problems of younger generations today. A set of social policies is recommended that could override this dissociation and thus resolve an array of issues simultaneously.

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