Identity crisis (psychology)
This article is about the psychological term. For a related concept, see midlife crisis
Midlife Crisis
"Midlife Crisis" is a song by the American rock band Faith No More. It was released on May 26, 1992 as the first single from their fourth album, Angel Dust...

. For other uses, see Identity crisis (disambiguation) and personality crisis
Personality crisis
Personality crisis may refer to:* Identity crisis , undeveloped or confused identity* Midlife crisis* "Personality Crisis", a song by the New York Dolls* Personality Crisis * Personality Crisis , by The Bear Quartet...


"Identity crisis is the failure to achieve ego identity during adolescence." The term was coined by the psychologist Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on social development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. His son, Kai T...

. The stage of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development as articulated by Erik Erikson explain eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. In each stage the person confronts, and hopefully masters, new challenges. Each stage builds on the successful...

 in which identity crisis may occur is called the Identity Cohesion versus Role Confusion stage. During this stage of adolescence, we are faced with physical growth, sexual maturation, and integrating our ideas of ourselves and about what others think of us. We form our self-image and endure the task of resolving the crisis of our basic ego identity. Successful resolution of the crisis depends on one’s progress through previous developmental stages, centering on issues such as trust, autonomy, and initiative .

Those who emerge from this stage with a strong sense of identity are well equipped to face adulthood with confidence and certainty. “Those who fail to achieve a cohesive identity-who experience an identity crisis-will exhibit a confusion of roles,” not knowing who they are, where they belong, or where they want to go. This sort of unresolved crisis leaves individuals struggling to “find themselves.” They may go on to seek a negative identity, which may involve crime or drugs or the inability to make defining choices about the future. “The basic strength that should develop during adolescence is fidelity, which emerges from a cohesive ego identity” .

Erikson's own interest in identity began in childhood. Raised Jewish, Erikson appeared very Scandinavian, and felt that he was an outsider of both groups. His later studies of cultural life among the Yurok of northern California and the Sioux of South Dakota helped formalize Erikson's ideas about identity development and identity crisis. Erikson described those going through an identity crisis as exhibiting confusion. They often seem to have no idea who or what they are, where they belong or where they want to go. They may withdraw from normal life, not taking action or acting as they usually would at work, in their marriage or at school. They may even turn to negative activities, such as crime or drugs, as a way of dealing with identity crisis. To someone having an identity crisis, it is more acceptable to them to have a negative identity than none at all .

Erikson felt that peers have a strong impact on the development of ego identity during adolescence. He believed that association with negative groups such as cults or fanatics could actually redistrict the developing ego during this fragile time. The basic strength that Erikson found should develop during adolescence is fidelity, which only emerges from a cohesive ego identity. Fidelity is known to encompass sincerity, genuineness and a sense of duty in our relationships with other people .

Erikson described identity as "a subjective sense as well as an observable quality of personal sameness and continuity, paired with some belief in the sameness and continuity of some shared world image. As a quality of unself-conscious living, this can be gloriously obvious in a young person who has found himself as he has found his communality. In him we see emerge a unique unification of what is irreversibly given—that is, body type and temperament, giftedness and vulnerability, infantile models and acquired ideals—with the open choices provided in available roles, occupational possibilities, values offered, mentors met, friendships made, and first sexual encounters."

In popular culture

  • Identity Crisis (DC Comics) A DC comic series
  • Identity Crisis (Marvel Comics) A Spider-Man storyline where he assumes four new identities.
  • Identity Crisis (film)
    Identity Crisis (film)
    Identity Crisis is a 1989 comedy film directed by Melvin Van Peebles. Written by Mario Van Peebles, the film is about a rapper who winds up sharing his body with the soul of a dead fashion designer, switching between personalities every time he is struck on the head...

     A 1989 comedy film
  • A Night in November
    A Night in November
    A Night in November is a 1994 monodrama written by Marie Jones about one man's struggle with national identity during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.-Plot summary:...

     A Play about a Protestant man in Northern Ireland who has a crisis about his national identity.
  • Identity
    -Philosophical topics:* Identity , also called sameness, is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable* Law of identity, principle of logic stating that an object is the same as itself...

  • Existential crisis
    Existential crisis
    An existential crisis is a stage of development at which an individual questions the very foundations of his or her life: whether his or her life has any meaning, purpose or value...

  • Identity Crisis (album) A 2000 album by the band Thrice
    Thrice is an American rock band from Irvine, California, formed in 1998. The group was founded by guitarist/vocalist Dustin Kensrue and guitarist Teppei Teranishi while they were in high school....

External links

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