Erik Erikson (1995), asserted that personality continues developing during an individual’s life span (p.37). As adulthood appears closer, adolescents focus their attention to their status in the society.
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As a result of this, Erikson devised a structured theory of development over the lifespan that has been extremely influential in understanding how youngsters manage identity issues in adolescence. Erikson’s theory structured the natural life into eight stages, each of which brings a psychosocial crisis involving transitions in important social relationships.
This essay will reflect on the fifth stage of Eric Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, which is the adolescence stage under the psychosocial crisis of identity. The major crisis or inconsistency in this stage is between identity and misunderstanding of responsibility.
The purpose or motion of this crisis is to realize a personal identity. Recognition of continuity and sameness in one’s personality, when in different circumstances and when reacted to by different individuals, leads to identity.
An idea that supports my view from Erikson’s theory is the fact that identity refers to having a relatively clear and stable sense of whom an individual is in the larger society with a sense of self as an independent, dynamic, and competent agent in a comparatively safe world.
Though, developing a sense of identity involves wrestling with such important issues as “Who am I?” “What do I stand for?” and “What kind of work do I want to do?” Gender, ethnicity, and sexual preference are also important characteristics of identity development.
Another idea is that identity emerges out of an “identity crisis,” or a period of individual questioning during which they wonder and experiment with various occupational possibilities and value choices (political, religious, sexual, etc.).
For most people, an identity crisis is not an unexpected or excruciating experience but rather the continuing evolution of a sense of who an individual is. An identity crisis generally ends with a dedication to a specific career and personal value system. These two factors of crisis and commitment merge in various ways to produce four identity statuses.
Note that these are not stages that people pass through, but rather statuses that exemplify a person’s identity orientation at any particular time. As a result, a person may never experience some of the statuses, including identity achievement.
A different perspective is the positioning of identity proceedings which are impulsive dedication to visions, and values which may be hindered by feelings of mistrust, shame and doubt, guilt, and/or inferiority and futility.
Another idea that supports my view is that identity formation is a challenging process even under the best circumstances; problems in earlier development may render it even more difficult and decrease likelihood of positive outcomes.
From my point of view, the conception of identity can be summarized as consisting the following elements and their various interrelations:
Identity is a clear or understood answer to the question, who am I?
- that consists of attaining a new unity among the elements of one’s past and one’s anticipations for the future,
- such that it gives origin to a primary logic of similarity and continuity.
- the answer to the identity question is reached by practically appraising oneself and one’s past;
- by considering one’s culture, particularly its ideology, and the expectations that society has for oneself,
- while, at the same time, questioning the validity of both culture and society and the appropriateness of the perceptions that others have of oneself.
Erikson, Erik. Childhood and Society. New York, NY: Vintage, 1995. Print.