Adolescent sexuality has become an overriding concern : it seems essential, these days, to guard against its unfortunate consequences, the foremost of which is pregnancy. At the same time, motherhood and adolescents’metamorphosis into virtual procreators are among the favorite subjects of American television series aimed at this age group. The feminine reproductive function is presented in these series as a potentially deadly, parsitic phenomenon, a demonic force that threatens humanity. The redeeming hero is a female and the path she follows is comparable to an initiation
Following the 1955 publication of Nabokov’s novel, “ physically attractive, flirtatious young girls giving the impression of ingenuous naïveté ” (Petit Robert dictionary) are indifferently designated by the terms lolita or nymphet : potential women whose bodies have yet to undergo the upheavals associated with motherhood. A nymph also designates the chrysalis of certain insects whose larvae, while undergoing a transformation into a reproductive creature, conserves its juvenile characteristics. What might be the meaning of this connection between prepubescent “ innocent ” femininity and an inferior animal such as an insect ? The analysis of certain works of science fiction may provide the key.
In these days of commonplace contraception and the prolongation of higher education, adolescent pregnancies appear as a challenge to the socially-prescribed reproductive period and generally give rise to worry and incomprehension. The object of this article is to show how scientific discourse helps to reinforce the socially required age of first pregnancy. Contrary to a medicalized and normative literature, this article will also, on the basis of field studies, call into question some received ideas on the subject, and outline some other explanations for these « culturally » precocious pregnancies.
In order to explore the coincidence of these two forms of identity crisis, adolescence and motherhood, two hypotheses are offered: one dealing with the cultural factor in the avoidance or facilitation of psychopathological disorders ; and the second considering pregnancy and motherhood as antinomic with regard to adolescent processes. These lines of thought are developed in three parts. The first, which is based on an interview with Inès, a young mother of gypsy origin, helps one to understand how the cultural space, shared with the outer social world, lends itself to bearing the inner psychical world. In the second part, pregnancy’s resistance to adolescent processes are dealt with through the novelties of the pubertaire and narcissitic issues. In the third part, we present the treatment of a pregnant adolescent and her family within the setting of a multidisciplinary parenthood support network.