Sunday, January 16, 2011


Identity.  We all have one but we rarely think about what goes into it.  Identity is a term with many definitions, depending upon the context in which it is used.  For the purposes of our discussion, however, identity will refer to "the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known."  A person's identity changes over time, yet there is also some intangible component that provides continuity.  If there was no consistency in an individual's identity we would not be able to say things like, "I used to be a trouble maker" or "she's not as shy as she used to be."  There is something about one's self that allows a person to refer to characteristics he once displayed but no longer possesses and yet still be referring to the same person (i.e., himself). 

The point is that a person can have many different identities over the course of a lifetime.  It is not problematic for a person's identity to change (and hopefully to grow) over time.  There are some things, however, that are problematic when it comes to identity:

1. Having no sense of identity.  This generally causes a person to feel lost, empty, and confused.

2. Being uncomfortable and/or unhappy with your identity.  In other words, the person doesn't like who he is.  This can lead to severe depression and self-loathing.

3.  Feeling like you cannot reveal your "real" self to others (because others would reject you).  This creates feelings of isolation, depression, and shame.

4. Neglecting things that are vital to your sense of identity.  This generally causes people to feel unfulfilled or like something is "missing."

A lot of emotional and psychological problems stem from disturbances in identity.  For people with diagnosable personality disorders the problem is a fragile or fragmented identity.  Depression is experienced by people who are unhappy with their identities, by people who feel they lack a sense of identity, or by people who are neglecting important parts of their identities.  Anxiety typically occurs in response to a real or perceived threat to a person's identity. 

I realize that identity is a very broad topic and could probably be the subject of it's own blog.  Still, I think it's something that is worth exploring, as who we are and how we define ourselves are factors that influence almost every aspect of our lives.  I am very open to ideas and/or suggestions about where to go with this topic.  Some things to think about: What kind of disturbances in identity cause the most problems?  Can a person have more than one identity at the same time?  What are the most important components of a person's identity?  How does identity shape our behaviors, our thoughts, and our choices?


  1. wow, u read my thoughts! :) i was about o ask u about this and voila you posted this! :) iw as wondering why i am not comfortable showing myself to others in the internet. my online friends are asking me why already. is this a case of low self esteem? or am i really just shy? though i always say i want to be as private as possible and stay anonymous

  2. If you "show" yourself you are connecting your "real" (offline) self with your online persona. The internet allows us to recreate ourselves in a way that may be slightly (or even vastly) different from who we are in the real world. A lot of people prefer to keep those two identities separate.

  3. what happens to people's identity once they done some heroic act? like saving a persons life? Do you think it changes that person( the hero) identity? to what ? and why?


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