Teenage years can be a challenging time for many individuals. Beginning at the age of 11 through 20, adolescence is defined as a “transitional period in the human life span, linking childhood and adulthood” (Santrock 2009). At this point, the person is no longer a child, but not yet an adult. This makes it a very critical and sensitive time frame for identity formation.
According to Erik Erikson, adolescence is marked by the child’s questioning his or her identity during what he refers to as the identity versus identity confusion developmental stage. During this phase, the adolescent becomes mindful of his or her identity and seeks his or her purpose in life, as well as the answer to the eternal question, “who am I?” In their quest to find their sense of self, adolescents experiment with different personalities and roles. Some teenagers display rebellious behavior, which is normal, as they experience a flood of countless emotions. The teens that are able to cope with the differing identities are able to form a new identity that they can accept. On the other hand, those who cannot cope during this experimental period suffer what Erikson calls identity confusion, where they either withdraw themselves from everyone else, or they lose themselves in their peers.
Adding to Erikson’s developmental stages, James Marcia proposed that individuals who are in the stage of finding an identity could be classified in four statuses: identity diffusion, identity foreclosure, identity moratorium, and identity achievement. Those with the identity diffusion status have not experienced a crisis nor have made any commitments, and are apathetic. Individuals with identity foreclosure have made a commitment, which their parents have forced upon them, but have not had a crisis. Teens with the identity moratorium are going through a crisis, and have poorly defined commitments or none at all. Ultimately, those with identity achievement have...
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