Thesis Title

The Compensating Male and the Adolescent Transitional Stage

Graduation Date

Spring 1984

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


This paper is directed toward the exploration of problematic behavior in male transitional stages, specifically adolescents, interest was generated while pursuing my internship, study in art therapy. During my studies of these youths, it became apparent that their destructive, delinquent and often bizarre behavior was as much a reaction to the internal struggle of masculinity conflicts as it was to external environmental pressures. Of course, the children with whom I worked represent an extreme example of problems which resulted from both strong environmental as well as internal conflicts.

I will first present the research hypothesis and purposes of this study. I will then provide the research literature needed to understand these complex issues. The theory of youth identity development and the resulting conflicts will be the first section. Then I will be presenting a section which deals specifically with male issues, i.e., sex role con­fusion, aggression and the underlying insecurity and frailty of the male ego. We will also explore the influence of mothers and women in general as they relate to fear and envy males have of femininity. Castration anxiety and the role of initiation ceremonies will also be explored. The last research section will present the theories of individualization, which focuses on the unconscious processes of the developing male. This will help us to understand and explore the symbolism which presented itself in the individual's art work I have chosen to share. These symbols may be shown to directly correlate and highlight the traumas of male development.

I will assert that through the art work these individuals were able to sublimate their inappropriate behavior and in some cases relieve the anxiety associated with their unconscious fears.

The last section of this paper will be directed toward the exploration of individual case studies, their history, their behavior and their art work. It is hoped that this paper will open the minds of people who may be grappling with the problems of being male or raising a male child. I hope that through understanding we may alleviate the problem of the com­pensating male.