Anthropology is a fascinating field, and within the confines of anthropology one can gain an insight into human psychology. One of these aspects of human behaviour is the variety of ways in which one can reach adulthood through the use of rites of passage.
An interesting paper (Alcorta and Sosis, 2020) reveal the many novel ways in which adolescents go through specialised rituals to gain the status of adult.
A question when reading the article is why there seems to be less of a ritualistic aspect to adolescent coming of age rituals than say other areas of the world including tribal communities. The authors of the paper provide an answer:
- For starters, the process of ritual is a highly costly practice with many signal communicative and otherwise.
- These rituals serve to increase in-group cohesion.
The authors point out that these rituals will be low-cost or absent in societies where the education and economic concerns are subsumed by the state.
Some of the main points of a ritual are to break down the 'self' of the individual in order to inculcate the values of the group or society.
Not all rituals are painful but a few are
- Lying motionless while ants bite the individual
- Hair pulling ritual among the Tukana Peoples
Even before neuroscience findings - the path from adolescence to adulthood has been recognised.
Understanding the importance of rituals and rites of passage can aid in understanding some of the most basic aspects of human nature.