What is a Healthy Identity?

Such an excellent series – join the conversation! 😉

Social Health

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ve probably noticed I have been thinking about the concept of ‘identity’ quite a bit. I’ve tried to define my concept of identity in relation to self-esteem, trauma, addiction, social media, and issues veterans face in transition to civilian life.

I’ve been trying to use a consistent concept of identity throughout these articles, influenced by Erik Erikson’s characterization of role identity, but I keep coming back to a fundamental problem:

Which role identities are healthy vs. which are unhealthy?

In my article on how self-worth affects identity, I describe the unhealthy ‘hero’ role. This is a role taken up by individuals with a low level of intrinsic self-worth who become perfectionists, attempting to gain self-worth through the external praise of others. I then elaborated how this similar process occurs among codependent caretakers who enable a loved-one’s addiction.

I then applied this model…

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Identity Crisis Among Veterans

Another insightful post on identity! 😉

Social Health

In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity. — Erik Erikson

Erickson’s concept of identity crisis has been generally associated with adolescents trying out various identities as they find their place in the world. Before my research on veterans in transition to civilian life, I never even considered the fact that many veterans experience an identity crisis, leading to a difficult transition.

Growing up, Remembrance Day ceremonies shaped my idea of veterans as a particular symbol of national pride. Perhaps I assumed they all held strong identities based on this national reverence. Little did I realize, this image was an idealized sacred nationalism that is often irrelevant or forgotten when it comes to everyday matters in civilian life.

One of our nation’s most revered roles is simultaneously one of the nation’s most forgotten and misunderstood. This is a huge…

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Identity and Social Media

Another thought-provoking post! 👍

Social Health

Expanding on my previous post, I want to explore the interaction between identity and self-worth, but in the context of social media.

Social role influences identity.

As stated previously, I am using Erickson’s model of identity as derived from one’s social role. When one has a low sense of self-worth, they may take on roles aimed at gaining a sense of self-worth through external validation. ‘The hero’ role is one possible way to achieve this validation, as I described in the context of the family.

Social injustices can influence self-worth. 

Beyond the family, low self-worth can be the result of an infinite number of traumas, social injustices, and other forms of violence. Some may include stigmas or discrimination based on one’s race, class, gender, level of ability, body image, or any other social bias that works to dehumanize, invalidate, and classify a specific ‘type’ of person.

Specific roles may…

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How Self-worth Affects Identity

An excellent post and worth the read!

Social Health

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how our social environment affects our identity. Our social environments shape us from birth, often unconsciously, instilling a sense of security, self-worth, and identity. Those growing up in dysfunctional families may lack a fundamental sense of self-worth, causing them to seek a sense of significance in ways that are unhealthy and unsustainable.

To gain a sense of significance, some take on the hero role, seeking praise for their achievements. Some become jokesters, making others laugh while suppressing their inner turmoil. Some become rebels, seeking approval from deviant peer-groups. Lastly, some may retreat into isolated fantasy worlds. The book, Another Chance by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, elaborates on these roles among families dealing with addiction issues.

Coming from a dysfunctional family plagued by addiction, individuals take on one or more of the above roles, carrying the negative long-term effects into adulthood. These may include underdeveloped coping strategies, low self-esteem, acting…

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