Thursday, July 25, 2013

Disturbed Sense of Identity in Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 3

Hey! Hey look! It’s the think that I wanted to talk about all along! Finally! All the exclamation marks!!!! Forgive my underlining ALL THE THINGS. This is the important stuff. Sorry. Read on =)



Carsten Rene´ Jørgensen, PhD


IDENTITY DIFFUSION AND BORDERLINE PATHOLOGY

In Grinker, Werble, & Drye’s (1968, p. 176) classical empirical study of borderline conditions, absence of indication of self-identity is listed as one of the four principal characteristics of the borderline syndrome. Similarly, Spitzer, Endicott, & Gibbon (1979) found that identity disturbance is one of the defining criteria for the borderline disorder. According to the prevailing psychoanalytic conceptualization, identity diffusion is one of the three main characteristics of borderline personality organization (Kernberg, 1984). In addition to this, one could argue that the borderline patient’s proneness for regression in stressful and unstructured situations is intimately related to identity diffusion. People who lack an inner compass and do not have access to a coherent understanding of the self and the outer world will be more vulnerable in unstructured situations, and more inclined to use primitive defense mechanisms. In Kernberg’s model, primitive psychological defenses and identity diffusion are closely linked and both are hypothesized as being intimately linked with regressive loss of control and negative affect  (Lenzenweger, Clarkin, Kernberg, & Foelsch, 2001). Primitive defense mechanisms, in particular splitting, form an essential part of the process that underlies identity diffusion. However, one has to distinguish between, on the one hand, pathological identity diffusion in borderline patients and, on the other hand, less severe and more transient identity diffusion and ‘normal’ identity crisis in adolescence. The identity diffusion, Kernberg and others are speaking of in borderline patients, is quite different from the identity problems, identity conflicts and adaptive identity diffusion of ‘normal’ late adolescents. One of the things these two groups have in common is a lack of—or deficits in—self-definition. The important difference is that the higher functioning adolescent with (momentary) identity problems has a fundamentally secure sense of self and the structural basis for eventually forming an identity (Marcia, 1989). The root of identity diffusion in borderline patients is to be found much earlier in life than during adolescence. They cannot commit themselves to the world, other people and long-term goals because— in a sense—there is no stable self or inner core to make these commitments.


Identity Diffusion: People who lack an inner compass and do not have access to a coherent understanding of the self and the outer world who are more vulnerable in unstructured situations, and are more inclined to use primitive defense mechanisms, are more prone to regression in stressful and unstructured situations, and tend to fuse maladaptively to those around them. Primitive defense mechanisms, in particular splitting, form an essential part of the process that underlies identity diffusion.

It is not uncommon for adolescents and your otherwise “normal” people to experience periods of identity diffusion. The main difference is for these people the underlying periods of diffusion or crisis are temporary but will eventually go back to their previously or otherwise steady-state. This is not so for those of us with BPD. We typically stay in this period of flux or uncertainty, constantly grasping and trying to blend or fuse, struggling to find a place to fit our identity in with the world where it otherwise doesn’t seem to fit.


Moreover, otherwise normal adolescents exposed to an identity crisis do not display the deep-seated, chronic pathology of object-relationships (Akhtar, 1992) frequently found among borderline patients. At the other extreme, identity diffusion must be differentiated from identity fragmentation with bizarre transformations of self-experience and breakdown of the borders of one’s identity often seen in psychotic decompensation. Empirical studies (Marcia, 1980, 1993, 1994) have related—primarily less severe, more adaptive and temporary forms of—identity diffusion to higher levels of anxiety, lower self-esteem, deficits in autonomous functioning, pre-conventional or conventional moral reasoning, problems with intimacy (tendency to withdraw) and disorganized (less systematic and rational) thinking. In DSM-IV and ICD-10, identity diffusion is listed as one of several equally important diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder.


The reluctance to emphasize some diagnostic criteria in preference to others is one of the more severe deficits in our authorized diagnostic systems. From a psychoanalytic point of view, severe and more permanent identity diffusion“problems in establishing and maintaining a stable and coherent sense of self” (Gunderson, 1984, p. 8)—is one of the most important diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorders (BPD) and other disorders rooted in borderline personality organization (BPO) (Kernberg, 1984). Kernberg (2004) even claims, that “the key anchoring point of the differential diagnosis of milder types of character pathology and neurotic personality organization, on the one hand, and severe character pathology and borderline personality on the other, is the presence of normal identity integration as opposed to the syndrome of identity diffusion.” Existing empirical studies (Clarkin, Widiger, Frances, Hurt, & Gilmore, 1983; Widiger, Frances, Warner, & Bluhm, 1986; Pfohl et al., 1986; Modestin, Oberson, & Erni, 1998, Fossati et al., 1999) of the importance of identity diffusion in personality disorders, however, have shown inconsistent results. Most of the studies (except Modestin et al., 1998 and Fossati et al., 1999) have used the diagnostic criteria from DSM-III. Here identity diffusion is narrowly defined in terms of “severe subjective distress regarding the inability to integrate aspects of the self to a relatively coherent and acceptable sense of self” and “uncertainty about a variety of issues relating to identity, including long-term goals, career choice, friendship patterns, sexual orientation and behavior, religious identification, moral value systems and group loyalties.” With the introduction of DSM-IV, the definition was changed to “markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.” It is therefore unclear to what extent the empirical findings (based on DSM-III) can be generalized to the relatively vague definition of identity diffusion used in DSM-IV. In one of the earliest studies, Clarkin and colleagues (1983) found that identity diffusion in itself is not an especially useful indicator of borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, the combination of identity disturbance and unstable/intense relationships was found to be “a very specific and sensitive indicator” of BPD.


Accordingly, if a person has unstable/intense relationships and marked disturbances in identity, the BPD-diagnosis can be made with certainty. Moreover, Hull, Clarkin, and Kakuma (1993, p. 506) demonstrated that “the severity of the borderline patient’s identity and interpersonal problems was predictive of the course of treatment over 6 months of hospitalization.” Apparently, identity diffusion and unstable relationships represent two important dimensions of the borderline disorder. However, factor analysis from two independent studies (Clarkin, Hull, & Hurt, 1993; Blais, Hilsenroth, & Castlebury, 1997) has indicated that identity diffusion and interpersonal problems, as they are defined in the DSM-system, represent one common factor. Thus, if identity diffusion and interpersonal problems represent two independent factors it has not been possible to differentiate sufficiently between them.


Results from a study by Widiger et al. (1986) suggest that identity disturbance in itself “may be a strong indicator of the borderline disorder” (p. 49). Identity disturbance obtained the highest positive predictive power (.87) of all eight (DSM-III) diagnostic criteria for BPD, which means that identity disturbance was relatively specific for BPD-patients. On the other hand, identity disturbance also obtained the lowest (.50) negative predictive power (the probability of not having a disorder given the absence of the symptom), which means that a relatively large part of the examined patients who did not meet the diagnostic criteria for identity disturbance nevertheless had a borderline personality disorder. In the Clarkin et al. (1993) study identity disturbance obtained a moderate positive predictive power (.59). Pfohl et al. (1986) and Modestin et al. (1987) similarly found a moderate positive predictive power (.63 and .45 respectively) for identity disturbance. Pfohl et al. (1986) found a very high (.94) negative predictive value (the probability that a given patient does not meet the full criteria for BPD, given that identity disturbance is not present) and high sensitivity (.82) for identity disturbance. Some of the most significant results have been presented by Fossati et al., 1999. In a study of the latent structure of the DSM-IV borderline personality disorder criteria they found high sensitivity (.82) and high negative predictive value (.95) for identity disturbance and they conclude that unstable relationships and identity disturbance are the two main characteristics and most relevant diagnostic criteria of the borderline disorder.


I’m not that interested in this aspect. Trying to find these kinds of patterns in the human experience is ludicrous. Even identical twins will experience life differently and have a probability of different outcomes given different environments and different circumstances.


The inconsistency in the presented results is probably due in part to differences in the studied populations. For example, the Clarkin et al. study used a group of out-patients whereas the study by Widiger et al.was based on a group of presumably more severely disturbed in-patients. Moreover, the studied populations were relatively small (n = 84 − 131) and only a minority of the patients had a borderline disorder. In conclusion, identity disturbance does not occur exclusively in borderline patients—a finding that apparently is in keeping with Kernberg’s broader concept of borderline personality organization—and it is not found in all borderline patients—something that might compromise the psychoanalytic idea of identity diffusion as being one of the defining characteristics of the borderline disorder. Nevertheless, identity disturbance is an important part of borderline pathology and in their study of identity disturbance in personality disorders Modest in et al. (1998, p. 356) conclude that identity diffusion “seems to predispose to BPD pathology to some extent; it is associated with borderline pathology more than with any other.” Despite its theoretical centrality, identity diffusion could be a problematic criterion on which to base the borderline diagnosis in clinical practice because it is difficult to identify it accurately without prolonged observation and contact with a patient (Gunderson, 1984, p. 8). Nevertheless, a number of the most important borderline symptoms are meaningfully related to—and possibly causally rooted in—diffusions of identity. Crawford, Cohen, Johnson, Sneed, and Brook (2004, p. 383) even hypothesized, that people who experience identity diffusion might use cluster B symptoms as a form of maladaptive defense against the distress, which typically arises from a poorly integrated identity. Intimacy and engagement imply a constant threat of fusion and the loss of a fragile identity, both of which can be defended against by the symptoms and disturbed behaviors seen in borderline patients. Thus, symptoms, dysfunctional behavior and pathological thought processes are seen as attempts to cope with a diffused identity and a generally fragile personality structure.


Identity diffusion is typically manifest as having great difficulty in answering simple—but psychologically essential—questions like: Who am I? How can I be differentiated from everybody else? What do I want? How can my present life and problems be meaningfully related to my past history and my conceptions of the future? In therapy, identity diffusion manifests itself as, among other things, inconsistent, faulty and crude concepts of self and significant others, rapidly shifting emotional states and descriptions of the self that present sharp discrepancies from interactions with the therapist in the here and now. Patients with identity diffusion “may present a completely chaotic and contradictory view of themselves without awareness of the nature of the description that they convey”(Kernberg, 2004, p. 62). The normal sense of individuality and authorship over one’s own life is impaired.  An unstable and fragile sense of self and identity gives rise to an often urgent feeling of emptiness and a strong need for others to fill the inner void and give structure to reality. Presumably, the high comorbidity (40–50%) found between BPD and dependent personality disorder (Stuart et al., 1998) is partly due to this strong need for others to compensate for deficits in personal identity. In relation to this, it is noteworthy that Modestin et al.’s (1998) investigation of identity disturbance in personality disorders found the highest prevalence of identity disturbance in patients with precisely dependent and borderline personality disorders. Helene Deutsch (1965) describes how people with ‘as-if’-personalities, where identity diffusion typically is salient, pick up signals from the outer world, and mold themselves and their behavior accordingly. This high field dependency is particularly problematic if the field (social relationships, contemporary culture, etc.) is loosely structured and dominated by incoherence and instability. By adherence to a group, they seek to give content and reality to their inner emptiness and establish the validity of their existence by incidental identification with others. Similarly, Marcia (1980) has observed that people with insufficiently developed identities are more liable to change their evaluation of themselves substantially in response to external feedback. Endeavors like these to compensate for identity deficits and handle experienced inner emptiness, and the resulting dependency on others, severely inhibits the ability to function autonomously and will contribute to the borderline patient’s inauthentic appearance and apparent lack of an inner core. What people with identity diffusion, experience as important, meaningful and of value may be excessively determined by— and dependent upon—the context in which they find themselves (Yeomans, Clarkin, & Kernberg, 2002) and when they are alone life is frequently experienced as empty and meaningless. They act in caricature like ways, as they imagine someone else would act or expect them to act, rather than in a manner that is genuine.

Severe deficits in sense of personal identity and related feelings of inner emptiness often result in the impulsive and self-mutilating behaviors that are characteristic for borderline patients. Self-mutilation, compulsive socializing, promiscuous sexual behavior and various forms of misuse (of alcohol, drugs, food, etc.) are used to ward off painful feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness. The borderline patient’s characteristic unstable and intense interpersonal relationships are thus related to a similarly unstable sense of identity. Without an adequately formed, mature and reasonably integrated identity, goal-directed behavior is impaired, a consistent commitment to work is lacking, sense of direction in different areas of life is insufficient and intimate interpersonal relationships are severely disrupted. Rapid fluctuations between different concepts of identity result in corresponding fluctuations between different modes of behavior. “Overenthusiastic adherence to one philosophy can be quickly and completely replaced by another contradictory one” (Deutsch 1965, p. 266), just as goals, plans, opinions, essential needs and concepts of own character and individuality can change rapidly, resulting in unpredictable behavior. As mentioned above, the development of personal identity in late modernity is a product of personal choices and constructs and the individual no longer enjoys an a priori social recognition of his or her identity. One has to win it in dialogue with others, and this can fail. Consequently, it will be increasingly difficult for individuals with severe interpersonal problems to obtain the recognition from others that is necessary to stabilize their identity. Thus, identity diffusion and unstable interpersonal relationships mutually augment each other. In people with identity diffusion the normal capacity to maintain a stable core of self-awareness amid (physical and psychological) change, over time and across different contexts, is impaired. A normal sense of the self that is continuous through time is lacking and the person does not manage to construct a coherent narrative or life story to integrate his or her personal identity. Life is experienced as a series of essentially unrelated fragments.

Moreover, identity diffusion often manifests itself as a tendency to role absorption (Wilkinson-Ryan & Westen, 2000), a tendency to define the self unilaterally in terms of a single role or label and a rigid adherence to—in some cases idiosyncratic—norms and values. The patient attempts to stabilize his or her self by temporary hyper investments in explicitly defined roles, (fundamentalist) worldviews, value systems and relationships that ultimately break down and enhance the predominant sense of emptiness, meaninglessness, confusion and absence of stable structures and narratives to guide his or her being in the world (Westen & Cohen, 1993).

…. (Goodness I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to do this… though  it’s not so much an attempt to define myself solely by that thing so much as I’m trying to submerge myself in it to see if it really fits me. I try things on like a new skin, but maybe that’s just calling a tomato a tamahtoe )….

Finally, the use of projection, projective identification and other primitive defense mechanisms are motivated by the borderline patient’s need to create a coherent, continuous and stable sense of identity. Parts of the self and personal identity are evacuated in order to create a coherent (albeit illusionary) and stable identity. Despite its prevalence and significance in borderline disorders our understanding of identity diffusion is insufficient since it has been the subject of very few empirical investigations and many more theoretical works.

When Therapist first talked to me about this she mentioned something about an improperly forming ego development in the person with the Borderline pathology. As a child you grow up learning from your parents, mimicking your parents, but eventually you begin to establish your own independence… or at least you should, but sometimes things go wrong. If there is abuse or abandonment there is an interruption in the process and the child never learns to properly establish independence and a healthy sense of their own self. They only learn to continue doing what they need to do in order to maintain their survival. This is a very truncated explanation. There’s more to come though! Tomorrow is Psychological Causes! Stay Tuned! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DISTURBED SENSE OF IDENTITY IN BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: Part 2



Carsten Rene´ Jørgensen, PhD

HUMAN IDENTITY IN LATE MODERNITY

Presumably, in some form or other, human beings have always asked themselves such questions as: Who am I? Where do I belong? etc. But at times of swift cultural change and social dislocation questions like these are brought to the fore and become increasingly difficult to answer. People in pre-modern societies didn’t speak of identity and social recognition of identity. This is not because they didn’t have (what we call) identity or because they didn’t need recognition, but because these issues were experienced as relatively unproblematic and therefore not necessary to be thematicized as such (Taylor, 1991, p. 48). According to the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman (1995, p. 81) “identity as such is a modern invention” in the sense that “at no time did identity ‘become’ a problem; it could exist only as a problem, it was a ‘problem’ from its birth.” Similarly Lichtenstein (1977, p. 130) says, with reference to Locke, that“ the problem of personal identity could only become a philosophical and psychological issue when it was no longer considered self-evident that what constituted a person was divine origin—man‘s endowment with an immortal soul from which is derived his unalterable identity.” In modernity, collective and institutionalized frames of identity building are dismantled (Bauman, 2001, p. 92).

Partly as a consequence of the progressive individualization process, individuals are expected to construct their own unique identity. Moreover, problems of identity have been privatized and defined as exclusively individual problems or manifestations of psychopathology that call for purely individual models of (psychological) understanding and treatment. As Bauman (1995, p. 82) put it, “identity entered modern mind and practice, dressed from the start, as an individual task.” Furthermore, we are told, that if we find it difficult to create our own identity it is our own personal problem. But, in reality, identity problems are also related to elements of modernity.

            … but is it really?

People with a mature identity have found an adaptive balance between, on the one hand, the need for autonomy, separation and interpersonal differentiation and, on the other hand, the need for attachment to- and intimate relations with- others. In their attempt to develop an adaptive identity, people living in late modern societies must navigate between the extremes of uncompromizing individuality and total belonging or social integration, where “the first is unattainable, while the second, like a black hole, will suck in and swallow up whatever floats near it” (Bauman, 2005, p. 30). The road to identity in late modern society is like “a running battle and an interminable struggle between the desire for freedom [the for separation, individuation and autonomy] and the need for security [the need to belong, to be part of a community and to be attached to others], haunted by fear of loneliness and a dread of incapacitation” (Bauman, 2005, p. 30). The dilemma of human identity is, as Lichtenstein (1977, p.13) has succinctly formulated it, that “outside a relatedness to another one it collapses. Only by contrasting themselves one to another can human beings become separate, can they acquire or create an identity.” At the same time, every unique individual needs others to reflect on and recognize his or her identity. It is not possible to form, nor define or sustain a personal identity without intimate relationships to others of significance. As the German philosopher Honneth (1995, p. 131f) has argued, the self-image of the individual depends upon the possibility of being continually recognized and backed up by others and “the experience of being disrespected carries with it the danger of an injury that can bring the identity of the person as a whole to the point of collapse.” The individual “comes to feel that ‘I am the doer who does, I am the author of my acts,’ by being with another person who recognizes her acts, her feelings, her intentions, her existence, her independence” (Benjamin, 1988, p. 21). This need for social recognition of one’s identity is related to the fact that humans are fundamentally social beings. We infer who we are by observing how we are perceived by others and how others react to us and, as observed by the classical social interactionists (cf. Cooley, Mead), we can only maintain a stable view of ourselves and the world if “we receive—or at least think that we have received—a steady supply of self-verifying feedback from others” (Swann, Rentfrow, & Guinn, 2003, p. 369).

Again, this is why the balance of nurture and nature is so strong. The biological predisposition is there, but if it is not reinforced or reinforced negatively it will have a disastrous effect and has a chance to spin things for the worse.

Identity is not something we are born with, nor is it an inner ‘core’ that is easily ‘found’ during the course of development. Human identity is open ended, not determined by pre-given inner structures, and one can conceptualize social organization as a collective effort to provide and maintain stable identities for its members. Lichtenstein (1977) envision human culture as a collective effort to provide workable identity configurations for its members. Humans are compelled to construct or acquire an identity and in so doing, they depend upon culture and each other. Even though we do not have an innate identity we enter the world with an inborn capacity to develop our own individual identity and individuality. This capacity is only realized when we have the chance to do so in interaction with others and with the support of cultural moorings and societal institutions. Our personal identity is always articulated through concepts (and practices) made available by society, cultural narratives (including transcendental or religious narratives), schools and other social institutions, mediated by family, authority figures, peers and friends (Appiah, 2005, p. 20).“As contexts of identity, societies vary along one main dimension—that is to say how directive or restrictive they are in defining identity” (Baumeister, 1986, p. 252). In a historical perspective, late modern society represents a relatively loosely structured context for the construction of human identity.

Modern cultures and societies pose a special problem for human identity development in that they “insist on self-made identities, ready to grasp many chances and ready to adjust to changing necessities” (Erikson, 1959, p. 93). In late modern society the individual is given a wide range of possibilities for identity development and each individual is required to define his or her own identity (Baumeister, 1986). At the same time identity development has been turned into a perpetual search for—and experimentation with—different identities. Individuals are expected to liberate themselves from representatives of older generations, outdated traditions and social institutions. This is a highly demanding task and may be experienced as both liberating as well as highly confusing. The most important psychological task in adolescence and the early years of adulthood, where borderline disorders are typically diagnosed, is the formation of a personal identity that is unique, stable, flexible, and adaptive. In more traditional cultures one has access to rituals, which are often extensive. Here the transition between childhood and adulthood and one’s identity tends to be determined by society. In modern western culture, identity development is largely a do-it-yourself project, an individual task that calls for individual choice and an ability to carry the responsibility for these choices. Modernity has freed the individual from inherited identity, and identity has been transformed from a matter of ascription, to an individual task and achievement. According to Foucault (1997, p. 262), there is only one practical consequence to be drawn from the idea that the self is not given to us: “We have to create the self as a work of art.” Identity has become a never ending reflexive project one has to work on and the late modern individual is obliged to search for itself in itself (Gross, 1999). This is yet another highly complex and demanding task and only the more resourceful individuals will be able to complete it.

As described by Giddens (1991), human identity has been dis-embedded and we all have to find our own individual strategies to re-embed our identity. In societies with a high rate of social change, values and norms for adaptive role performance that were valid for older generations are no longer useful. As a consequence, especially adolescents are given the particularly stressful task “to forge a personal identity without being able to rely on models from the previous generation” (Paris, 1996, p. 90) or without indeed being able to rely on stable, generally accepted and validated societal models. Today, acquisition of identity involves the creation of modes of life that are defined in terms of roles and social functions that have not previously existed” (Strenger, 2004, p. 514). Societal guidelines, restrictions and pressures have been loosened immensely and the individual has an unprecedented freedom to construct his or her own life. But this freedom has also increased the burden on the individual to find a stable inner or outer base from which to make choices (Baumeister & Muraven, 1996). Even though we no longer have access to stable and clearly defined rules of choice, we have to make a great deal of them. As the number of choices continues to grow, negative aspects associated with the process escalate, and the individual then runs the risk of becoming over-loaded (Schwartz, 2004).In particular, individuals without the psychological resources required for making numerous choices can be tyrannized by the newly obtained freedom.

Free choice as an ideal, only makes sense when some issues are experienced and defined as being more important than others (Taylor, 1991). Faced with major and self-defining choices, humans therefore seek a single, unimpeachable criterion from which the correct or optimal decisions can be logically derived (Baumeister, Shapiro, & Tice, 1985). According to the prevailing cultural conceptions of selfhood we are supposed to find these criteria in the self and our personal identity. Personal identity is conceptualized as an inner source of morality and people are told by the new moral code of selfhood “that they should look inside themselves to find the sources of value and the answers to moral   dilemmas”(Baumeister & Muraven, 1996, p. 410).

            .... but what the hell does this even mean?!?!?

In accordance with predominant neo-liberal conceptions of man and society [keep in mind there is nothing that says this is the right conception, just that this is a currently accepted conception], our understanding of human psychology presupposes the existence of a self-contained and more or less constitutionally given self, which is “organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastingly both against other such wholes and against its social and natural background”(Geertz, 1984).Our main focus is a more or less autonomous individual capable of accepting responsibility, whilst the social and cultural context is assumed to have secondary significance. Facts about the individual are conceived as being facts that are more or less independent of the individual’s physical and cultural environment. The widespread belief, that the answer to complicated questions and problems in life lies within, and that our personal identity is required to “contain answers or meta-criteria that can be used to generate answers” (Baumeister, 1986, p. 26) has potentially contributed to the development of identity problems.

As argued by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz, this modern western conception of the person is, “however incorrigible it may seem to us, a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures”(Geertz, 1984). We have not always had the strong sense of individuality and personal identity that reigns now (Baumeister, 1997). Additionally, from the standpoint of a more communitarian concept of man and society (Taylor, 1991), it is only possible to develop a stable and valid identity if one has acquired essential social and cultural resources, and has been firmly integrated in society.

There is no such thing as a pre-given inner self or identity, rather the social, embodied and situated, or embedded nature of an individual and his or her identity is emphasized. Similarly, hermeneutic theory (Gadamer, 1975) has argued that humans are fundamentally historical beings; they are always already situated in a social context and partly constituted by culture and prevailing understandings of self and the world. In a world where religion, the state, tradition and social institutions have lost a substantial part of the legitimacy and power they previously used to structure, regulate and give meaning to individual lives, human identity has become an inner Heimat or home. Personal identity serves as a surrogate of community, “of that allegedly ‘natural home’ which is no longer available” (Bauman, 2001, p. 151) in the individualized and globalized world. The new and in some cases severe social and psychological problems that ensue from changing societal conditions are individualized and personal identity is seen as a kind of private medicine for collective maladies (Jørgensen, 2002; Bauman, 1995). Bauman (1995) has argued, that identity is the name used when people seek an escape from uncertainty. Personal identity is an important inner resource in the individual’s efforts to navigate in an increasingly complex world. It functions as an inner frame of reference and supports the experience of the world and one’s individual life as coherent, meaningful and guided by an inner logic. Thus, while becoming more difficult to create, the importance of having (access to) an adaptive identity has increased immensely.


I find this section to be quite interesting. Personal identity is not entirely all that personal after all. Personal identity is often a collective identity influenced by a whole manner of things especially your immediate environment and society/culture influencing that environment. I doubt this surprises anyone greatly. At least not if you’ve been with me for long.


Everyone always talks about identity as if it’s this tangible thing like I should know what it is. Like I should be able to point to it and say, yes, that’s me. But I can’t and I always feel like there’s something wrong with me. I’ve honestly had quite a bit of block when it’s come to writing and posting this series because it’s created a lot of anxiety in me. However reading the different perspective of renowned psychologists it seems as if there is much debate on this topic. In fact many don’t believe that at all. That belief is actually a cause for some of these identity issues in the first place because it doesn’t actually work that way! Well that’s a relief. Part 3 tomorrow…





P.S. I’m going on vacation next week but I’m going to try and set up posts for you if I can.  
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