James Marcia Identity Achievement

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Amy Striker
Child Psychology
04/11/2013
Finding Your Way Through Identity Crisis

Do you remember being a high school and being overwhelmed with all the choices of colleges, majors, occupations etc.? This seems to be the most confusing time of an adolescent’s life and one they will never forget, however what most don’t realize is that there is not just a point that we are all grown up. Instead, there is a very long process and it takes a lot of effort. James Marcia delved beyond Erik Erikson’s stage of identity achievement and created four different levels of this achievement. These levels were distinguished by crisis and commitment. Crisis is defined as a period of identity development during which the individual is exploring alternative, while commitment is personal investment in identity (Marcia, 2003). Identity achievement is obtained when an individual searches for different alternatives, explores those alternatives and makes a commitment to one of the choices. When one is identity achieved they have explored different ideals, occupations, and political views. From the exploration of each, the adolescent finds what they feel they most relate to and commit to those views and ideas. Achievement is also associated with advanced reasoning ability seems that adolescents and adults who can take multiple perspectives on themselves and others also have a firmer and more flexible sense of who they are. For this reason, successful individuals have higher intimacy in their relationships. They are able to commit and feel confident that they will be able to understand their partner’s point of view without having to change their own. However, they have to adapt and understand their own viewpoints while at the same time not experiencing the levels of despair found in less cognitively sophisticated people (Marcia 2003). Moratorium occurs when there is a crisis being faced but no commitment has yet been made. During this phase comes the process of making standards for ourselves. Adolescents often express a conflict between their own needs and parental values, and between desire and fear of consequences. In the midst of moratorium, anxiety is likely to be the highest of all the stages, the reason being there is far more uncertainty and pressure residing in the need to make a choice that will change the course of one’s life and career (Marcia 1966). High school students and college students are normally found in this stage. After an individual has reached this stage however, they will very unlikely be going back to foreclosure or diffusion. Foreclosure is the status of individuals who have made a commitment but have not experienced a crisis. This occurs most often when parents hand down commitments to their adolescents, usually in an authoritarian way, before adolescents have had a chance to explore different approaches, ideologies, and vocations on their own. A Foreclosure unquestioningly accepted the standards (usually parental) with which she had been brought up, and when pressured by a significant other or their own impulses, clung to rules and authority to guide actions. Those individuals whose entire family is in a particular field may be in this group when they graduate high school and upon their freshman year may begin to go to the way of moratorium, for they are able to explore different ideals in a parent free setting. Diffusion is the status of individuals who have not yet experienced a crisis or made any commitments. Not only are they undecided about occupational and ideological choices, they are also likely to show little interest in such matters. Those who are in the diffusion category are often weary about their life equilibrium being disrupted, they see themselves as the way they are and they are afraid of making changes. These individuals may go into a career office, scoff at the results of their aptitude tests and never end up researching into those ideas as an individual in the moratorium stage would. Difficulty...
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