A mental confusion when attempting to understand the anomaly which is the self. Quite common in adolescents, disillusioned religious converts, and the like. The root of the question

Who am I?

It's what happens to us when we pause what we're doing for a moment, and step outside of ourselves, and look at who we are.

It can be scary to see somebody different than you were expecting to see.

Or not see anybody at all.

An identity crisis can occur when we ground our identity in materialistic things or features, and discover that these fail to fully describe or capture the I. For example, beauty, appearance or style. It can also occur when we ground the individual in a belief system, and those beliefs change - for in the same way, these do not define a person, and when a person's beliefs change an identity crisis can occur. One is not merely a vegetarian or a conservatist.

Unfortunately, I don't yet know the antidote...

But it helps to remember that you are more than your beliefs, and that often an identity is indescribable.

According to a researcher whose last name is Marcia and whose first name has vanished into the recesses of my mind, an identity crisis has four stages.

  1. Identity diffusion : During this stage, the person is not in any specific crisis. At this point, all of their identity issues are all jumbled together.

  2. Moratorium : The actual identity crisis, focused on one single issue, (religion, politics, relationships, vocation, etc.) begins. For the time being, the other issues are set aside.

  3. The last two stages are the two possible outcomes of the crisis:

  4. Foreclosure : The adolescent decides to fall in line with what their parents want.

  5. Identity Achievement : The individual decides on their own what they are going to do. Identity achievement can be attained if the adolescent decides to follow their parents' example by using their own individual free will. Essentially, using your own will and value system equals identity achievement.
When Elizabeth Howell Boykins, 25, returned to her apartment in Charleston, South Carolina, from a weekend trip, she found another woman living there. The intruder was wearing her clothes. She greeted Ms Boykins, took her luggage and shut the door in her face.
"The woman took all of my paintings off the walls, bought a new lamp and a shower curtain and a rug for the bathroom."
The intruder insisted it was her apartment, but gave herself away when she misidentified the owner of the building, and said that John Wayne was taking her out to dinner.

Augusta Herald 18 July 1990

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