All About Identity

"We contain multitudes," wrote Walt Whitman, referring not to the highly contested diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder but to the fact that we see ourselves radically differently in different contexts. Everyone struggles with that existential plum, "Who am I?" For people who are overly concerned with other people's impressions, or who feel a core aspect of themselves, such as gender or sexuality, is not being expressed, this struggle is acute.

Recent Posts on Identity

The Existential Crisis of Birdman

Birdman embodies the struggle to discover your authentic identity.

I’m Getting Married, Should I Change My Name?

What to consider if you’re uncertain about marital name change. This choice can have many different meanings.

Looking to Our Past: Escapism or Exploration?

The past is gone, cannot be changed, and cannot return. Is revisiting it in memory a reluctance to live in the present?

The End of Rural Communities: Why Young People Leave

Research shows that young people prefer to remain in their rural communities if they have access to education and employment opportunities. It will take governments and the private sector to build resilient rural spaces that stop out-migration.

Lifting the Covers: Sex with the Undercover Police

Has reporting over-simplified the predicament of undercover agents and their relationships?

Is Keeping Muslims out of US Un-American?

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on November 20, 2015 Am I Right?
"America First" or "I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door" are competing versions of American history. Both are accurate.

Prisoner 819 did a bad thing…Prisoner 819 did a bad thing…

By Kevin Bennett on November 16, 2015 Modern Minds
What happens when you lock a group of college males in the basement for a two-week experiment? Find out this week on DVD.

Life After 55 When Your Death Is No Longer Unexpected

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on November 12, 2015 Obesely Speaking
In life change is constant and aging is unavoidable, but you will always be you.

Why People Become Sheeple

By Wendy Treynor Ph.D. on November 10, 2015 Identity Shift
Anyone who has been a victim of the herd mentality-- whether for being a black sheep or going along with the herd- will want to know why people become sheeple— how the peer pressure process works, whether on the playground, in the locker room, in the boardroom, or on the battlefield.

Pauline Black and the Art of Confrontation

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on November 10, 2015 Brick by Brick
Pauline Black, considered by many as the "Queen of Ska," shares her story of discrimination and advises young people to challenge and confront the world that they see.

Ideology Matters (Too Much)

By Gordon Hodson Ph.D. on November 10, 2015 Without Prejudice
Historically, theorists argued that political ideology is not meaningful in our day-to-day lives. But the psychological record now demonstrates that ideology matters a great deal to our personal and social lives. In fact, some might argue that it now matters too much, influencing our basic perception and decision-making.

5 Steps to Beating Self-Doubt

To truly be able to live your dreams you have to feel worthy of success.

Mourning a Loved One

By E E Smith on November 08, 2015 Not Born Yesterday
It's hard to imagine now but, as a girl of 20, I was not fond of the man who had just become my brother-in-law. I was even a little afraid of him during the early years of my marriage to his brother. He was gruff, irreverent and cynical, with a wry sense of humor that often left me wondering whether he was deadly serious or only joking.

Dissociation and Psychosis

Psychosis, a state of implicit trauma, is characterized by the symptom of dissociation from reality by the psychotic individual. This withdrawal involves derealization, or the sense that the world is not real, and depersonalization, or a sense that the self is not real. Using the Eriksonian paradigm for therapeutic treatment of schizophrenics may be a promising.

Jeering the Mets

Gloating over the Met’s loss, jeering at Daniel Murphy's error, conflating a “failure” with an identity is precisely the mentality that twists lifestyle differences into hatred and homophobia.

How Master Manipulators View Adult Relationships

Habitually manipulative people are likely to have an anxious-ambivalent, anxious-avoidant, or disorganized attachment style.

Music Therapy and Autism: An Ethical Dilemma

By Dean Olsher M.A., MT-BC on November 01, 2015 A Sound Mind
Music therapists are effective at treating autism. Autistic people think it is wrong of us to try.

Mass Surveillance: DNA

By Elliot Hosman J.D. on October 30, 2015 Genetic Crossroads
DNA testing companies are luring customers to hand over their biological ID for health and ancestry guesstimates, but the real business is collecting data on millions of people and selling access to that data. And sometimes, customers' DNA can end up in the hands of law enforcement.

Dracula on the Couch: The Psychiatry of Vampires

By Joe Pierre M.D. on October 29, 2015 Psych Unseen
A psychiatric view of vampirism over the past 50 years

Dealing with the Dead-end Job

Feeling stuck in a dead-end job? Rather than just getting away, figure out what you want to go towards. Some tips.

Why are Some People Eager to Fight for the Islamic State?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on October 28, 2015 Hot Thought
Foreigners and locals decide to go to fight with the Islamic State because it provides a good fit with their fundamental values and beliefs – emotional coherence. A value map shows some of the emotional structure of the Islamic State ideology.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer --Already??

Why had I never realized that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is built around the bullying, shaming and rejecting a child who is different?

Kevin Powell’s Skill to Be Real

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on October 26, 2015 Brick by Brick
Kevin Powell explains how no matter what we face, if we can find our sense of purpose, we can build the best version of who we are —our real self.

Should You Wear a Costume for Halloween?

The pros and cons of dressing up for undecided readers.

Discovering Who I Am

Developing a coherent, personal identity is a basic human need. The establishment of our identity is an integral outgrowth of our relationships with important people in our lives.

American Narcissism and Mass Shooters

By Jean Kim M.D. on October 15, 2015 Culture Shrink
The American Dream of the self-made individual is failing; the easy way to get narcissistic fame and attention has become turning to mass shooting. How do we get rid of this toxic phenomenon?

Avatar Therapy Shows Promise For Voice Hearers

Voice hearers can confront a simulation of their auditory hallucination

Facebook and the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FoMO)

By Michael Hogan Ph.D. on October 14, 2015 In One Lifespan
The psychological impact of Facebook use, and FoMO, is slowly revealing itself. Our study is the first to use Interactive Management to explore the interdependencies between negative consequences of FoMO identified as significant by Facebook users.

A Real Giant

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 14, 2015 How To Do Life
Today's installment in my series of "How to Do LIfe" fables.

Coming Home

Psychologists may play a key role in helping military members and their families transition back to civilian life.