In the treatment of the adolescent the physician may be confronted not only with overt mental and emotional disorders but also with problems that are less plain and yet which may reflect something of the emotional reactions that are usual at this time of development and change. A pubertal girl may remain an "invalid" following recovery from a relatively minor illness. Another young person may be obsessively concerned with somatic issues having to do with minor pathology, with acne, with size, or with minor differences in appearance. A family may ask about an adolescent's unusual behavior. Each problem may represent a particular response to the emotions of this time of life, a response which is determined in part by past personality development and in part by cultural or social circumstances.
Society and medicine have long been conscious of the vicissitudes of youth, but it has been only within this century