In the earliest recorded paleotimes, in the coming to consciousness of the human individual, and in the "climax" of a culture, the phenomenon is much the same, a moment when the image, the word, the concept all come together and are expressed somehow. This is not just intellectual, because in history the fossils are almost suddenly joined by solid expressions of emotion in the form of decoration, jewelry, objects of beauty. Cave art dates back to about 40,000 years ago. It's all about meaning, which is a human quality that supports survival.
"The collapse of confidence since the nineteenth century, and the turbulence which has followed, are incorporated in an historical model describing the development of western civilization. It suggests that they are threshold symptoms of a forthcoming transition of profound importance and without earlier parallel.. . . There is no suggestion that we can anticipate what will happen, but recent rapid advances in communications and information technologies are likely to play a critical formative part in a development which will involve both a growth in collective self‐consciousness and the conceptual expansion of our minds. (Crawford Robb, 1993)"
The child who has mastered the required basic skills of walk, talk and number, now needs to acquire meaning, which comes largely from other humans but also from temperament and experience. The force from adults might be towards conformity or towards rebellion, often seen as transcendence.
In other words, adrenarche is a time of potential. One aspect, "what you might be" is so deep in our genetics that it goes back to our "inner fish", and a couple of tiny genes that throw the switch between male and female, so that every human being has a shadow of the opposite sex. This is still present in humans. I learned this from https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/gonads-xy.
This an entirely new kind of learning: today's research, today's smart aleck and hyper-alert people who explain, and sound effects --not just music like a movie but also wild sounds, music that comments on the talk, startlements and jokes, mom. Not everyone can follow this stuff, but if you can, it's great fun.
I'm personally interested as a high androgen cisfemale, having evaded childbirth partly by maintaining celibacy. This shifts the conversation from one-unit/one-identity to identity as a process that's always on-going. It allows for variation, differences, puns and deceptions, revelations and unities. But the limits of homeostasis are always present. Get too absorbed and your identity is gone -- you're a robot. Get too intransigent about your identity and they burn you at the stake. Or maybe just deny you any social support.
These years establish a person's "style" and capacity, are forgiven some blunders because you're just a kid, or might be punished to nearly the point of death in an effort to erase behavior that is simply not acceptable to these adults.
Musical theme. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKC8pSFg1Vw
In the early years of my younger brother, he saw himself as a cowboy and dressed with a cap gun at his hip, chaps, a neckerchief, and a "cowboy" hat. On a trip to Roseburg where we stayed with my mother's sisters on a beloved farm, an Eden to city kids, the adult men decided to tease this idea of a little kid being a sheriff. They were butchering a cow on a tripod hoist where the pickup could drive to transport it and heavy edible organs could be carried to the house.
My little brother, "the Sheriff", got up late, assumed his identity and went out, confronting something he had never seen before -- the carcass of a cow. It was skinned but not bloody, missing head and feet, already emptied of guts. My little brother was appalled at the grotesquery, the ghastliness. My uncles and cousins joined to say that the carcass was the work of rustlers and they confronted the five-year-old about why he had allowed this to happen, since he was the law. His horror was compounded by guilt. His sense of himself as a competent human being was shattered.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. https://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/watch-listen/sacred-music-library.html Prefab rule-ridden patriarch dominated meaning but grand music.
At the high end of the "adrenarche" age span, in my search for meaning I went through the Presbyterian steps of youth group and so on. I even knelt by my bed to pray, as I had seen depicted, which made my brothers snicker. The Revised Standard Translation of the Bible came out and I decided to read it. I read as far as Noah's daughters getting him drunk so he would inseminate them and human life could go on.
Our congregation was a small neighborhood affair with a pretentious minister hoping to go up the hierarchy. Behind the church was a Chinese family that dried fish on the swing set, rather aromatic. The minister was racist about it and said nasty things. One of that family was a good friend of mine -- she still is, many decades later. I tried to swallow the hypocrisy and failed. it became contempt. I resolved to be inclusive and now my meaning is guided by radical inclusion drawing in all of existence. Stigma is merely a challenge.
(This isn't a thousand words long. So what. Quakers sit in silence.)