Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 65, Issue 5, pp 669–680 | Cite as

Developing Psychic Genera: Pastoral Care for Adolescents in the Context of Unlimited Competition

  • Youn Deuk Jeong


This paper explores pastoral care for adolescents confronted with unlimited competition. To understand the inner struggles of adolescents in this situation, I draw on philosopher Byung-Chul Han’s The Burnout Society. In the milieu of unlimited competition, adolescents are prone to exploit themselves in order to achieve more and more in their studies. Psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas’s concept of “psychic genera” is used to develop a way of offering pastoral care to suffering adolescents. Psychic genera, the opposite of psychic trauma, is the unconscious sense of how to invest one’s psychic resources in the inner area of work that facilitates the expression of one’s idiom (the unique nucleus of each individual). I suggest that adolescents confronted with unlimited competition do not have enough opportunities to develop psychic genera. This is because the receptive process and tolerance of chaos and unproductivity, both of which are necessary for the shaping of psychic genera, are not possible in these adolescents’ situation. Inspired by Bollas’s concept of “play work,” I suggest a pastoral care of freedom as a way of pastoral care for adolescents suffering from severe competition. This pastoral care can provide adolescents with opportunities to experience freedom from feeling fatigue, to have ambivalent feelings, and to grope in the dark. Finally, I suggest that this freedom can give birth to psychic genera and, ultimately, to a conceptualization of faith as psychic genera.


Adolescents Unlimited competition Psychic genera Pastoral care of freedom 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seoul Women’s UniversityNowon-guRepublic of Korea

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