Identity Versus Role Confusion: Who am I?
EGO IDENTITY is the attainment of a firm sense of self—who one is, where one is headed in life, and what one believes in. People who achieve ego identity clearly understand their personal needs, values, and life goals. Erikson believed ego identity is the key developmental task of adolescence and sets the stage for meeting the next life challenge: achieving intimate, secure relationships with others. In other words, we need to know who we are before we can reveal our true selves to others in the context of close, binding relationships. Evidence supports Erikson’s view that people who successfully negotiate earlier psychosocial crises, including the ego identity challenge, are generally better able to resolve later psychosocial crises in life. By extending psychosocial development beyond childhood, Erikson raised our awareness of the importance of the developmental challenges we face not only in adolescence but also throughout our lives.
Erikson coined the term Identity crisis to characterize the stressful period of soul searching and serious self-examination that many adolescents experience when struggling to develop a set of personal values and direction in life. Adolescents who successfully weather an identity crisis emerge as their own persons as people who have achieved a state of ego identity. Ego identity, however, continues to develop throughout life. Our occupational goals and our political, moral, and religious believes often change over time. Therefore, we may weather many identity crises in life.
Through the struggle for personal identity is usually most intense during adolescence, many adolescents never grapple with an identity crisis. They may develop a firm sense of ego identity by modeling themselves after others, especially parents, without undergoing any period of serious soul searching or self-examination. Others who never experience an identity crisis may fail to develop a clear sense of ego...
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