a)The learning function
Adolescents are enriched by new physical, psychological and social skills which will enable them to face increasingly great learning challenges. They are going to learn about themselves (how to master their new impulses and enjoy them), about the new roles that they will have to play in their social context (in this, they will be greatly conditioned by their social status and the cultural ways in which adolescents normally adapt to such a context). This will allow them to take on new social engagements. They will also learn to rationalize and will broaden their capacity to understand. They will thus be able to face more intense educational challenges and extend the scope of understanding to broader phenomena.
b)The assertion function
Adolescence is a time in which one recognizes that one is different. To assert themselves, adolescents need to differentiate themselves from others (from the children they were, from adults who have shown them the way so far, and from their peers). Often, self-assertion is achieved by opposition (through boasting, trying to catch other people’s attention, and being confrontational), and sometimes, the need for self-assertion makes adolescents resort to their “new strengths” (aggressiveness, being seductive, etc.) Other times, they need to resort to their imagination and seek refuge in spaces and possibilities offered by their imaginary world. Rationalization and idealism also play an important role in this process.
c)The overcoming function
Young people feel that they have been endowed with new strengths and with an almost unlimited energy, aptitudes, and personal resources (talking, discussing, thinking, etc.). Part of this exercise to strive to go beyond oneself involves drastic and compromising decisions. This is why this phase is characterized by excess, extravagance, record-breaking, high-intensity sports, and total generosity.
As a result of this triple set of impulses and resources, the adolescent is more emotional than rational (though he thinks things out and according to clear criteria), has more energy than he knows how to handle, and tends to get carried away by rather than mastering situations, with all the risks that this implies. He can take on major challenges but also make serious mistakes, which may even become irreversible.