The developmental period known as puberty should be understood in terms of the evolution of consciousness. Barfield scattered comments concerning puberty are almost wholly drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner.

As the Meggid explains to Burgeon in Unancestral Voice, adolescence has not always presented the problems it now presents, for the nature of childhood has changed:

In the past the growing child could accord an instinctive respect to grown-up minds which were held in the same nimbus of instinct as his own. His judgment could accept their judgments with a certain reverence. And that is what he needs above all things in the period before puberty. Already, in that period, he can no longer be satisfied with merely imitating his elders, as he did when he was still a baby. But he is not yet self-determined enough to meet their judgments with his own, as equal to equal. He needed, in those earlier year of his, not so much "to think for himself"--for any such thinking will be a mockery--he needed to lean on tradition, and on authority and example which he could respect. Should he have had that in the years before his teenage--when he must indeed begin to think for himself--then he comes to that age strengthened and in a measure prepared. But [our] era no longer has the instinct out of which it can give him that. . . . it must look now to another source than instinct.

The child lucky enough to have "that boon"--to possess authoritative models he can respect--"will indeed begin after puberty to pass his own judgments on the world about him, but he will not simply refuse to listen to all who judge differently." But that situation seldom occurs in the modern world.

As it is today, let us suppose he does listen occasionally--what does he hear? What does he hear in the talk that goes on in his family, what does he hear when he turns on the radio, or read when he opens a newspaper? He hears only the chaotically conflicting judgments of an adult world which is, at bottom, in the same predicament as himself. He has just tumbled, as it were, into a deep dry gulf between thought and instinct, which were formerly one within him, and there is no help for him, because the world into which he is awakening is in that very same gulf. Neither his teachers, if he still has any, nor any other adult companions can help him to bridge the gulf, because they have as yet found no bridge themselves. Now that instinct itself no longer affords a bridge, they know of no way to and fro across the void that yawns between an impotent thinking emancipated from instinct on the one side, and, on the other, a dehumanized instinct emancipated from thought. (UV 47-48)

For the modern age, then, the age of the consciousness soul, puberty is "the age in the age" (UV 48).
See in particular Unancestral Voice, Chap. 4.