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

Your Identity and Its Surprising Role in Your Email

All too often we hear of a public figure whose email was hacked. What they thought was private becomes grist for the media mill. How would you feel if someone targeted you?
True Grit movie poster

'True Grit' as a (Strangely) Therapeutic Movie

We expect coming of age films to show an adolescent protagonist grow up, but in the Coen Brother's quirky remake of 'True Grit,' true development is hidden at the end of the film.

Can Possession Be a Good Thing?

Possession is common in many spiritual traditions – is that a good or a bad thing?

10 Models of Our Self

By Anthony Synnott Ph.D. on July 21, 2016 in Rethinking Men
“Know thyself” advised the oracle at Delphi. “Show thyself” is the motto of today. Do we truly know ourselves?

Know Thyself

Knowing ourselves is no easy task.

10 Questions on Bilingualism

Can adults learn to speak a foreign language without an accent? How does bilingualism affect children's development? Do bilinguals feel different in different languages?

How to Prevent Violence

Identify powerlessness, rejection, humiliation, injustice, unimportance, insignificance and nothing to lose by dying before they combine together in violence.

Identity Can Change Even After Death

By Kenneth J. Doka Ph.D. on July 17, 2016 in Good Mourning
Identity is not fixed at death—some times new information or values can change the way an individual is perceived even long after their death. This can deeply affect grief.

#What Lives Matter?

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on July 16, 2016 in Minority Report
By now you've seen the war of words between #Black Lives Matter and #All Lives Matter. So what's wrong with saying, "All lives matter"?

Homesickness: A Sign of Weakness or Strength?

Once considered beneficial, attachment to home is now viewed as dysfunctional. Is love of home a disorder? Or is it a foundation for healthy relationships?

Stuart Smalley Was Wrong

By Sarah C. Newcomb Ph.D. on July 12, 2016 in Loaded
Can affirmations help you avoid over-spending? The right way to affirm yourself for better self-control.
Carl Pickhardt Ph.D.

Identity Experimentation in Early and Mid Adolescence

Adolescence is partly about experimentation with self-definition to try out and find out what identity truly fits.
DNA Double Helix/Andrea Laurel/CC BY 2.0

DNA Tests for Ethnic Ancestry in Adoption: A Skeptic’s View

By Rebecca Compton Ph.D. on July 08, 2016 in Adopting Reason
How reliably can your DNA tell a story about where your ancestors came from?

The Transgender Bathroom Battle

The Supreme Court may decide the debate over transgender bathroom laws. Let’s hope they use common sense.

Cities and Years

By Kaja Perina on July 05, 2016 in Brainstorm
When people ask me what impact a move will have on a child, I have a four-word answer: Depends on the child.

She Said, He Said, She Said

In which a male and female psychologist on opposite sides of the planet attempt to draw closer in understanding what makes it so hard for marriages to stay alive.
Lyon Cyborg/Wikimedia Commons

How Many Straight People Are There?

Regardless of whether it’s sexual identity, attraction, or behavior, fewer women than men say they’re straight.

The Baby-Boomer Kiss-Off

The baby-boom generation has lost its relevance

The Psychology of Betrayal

Evolutionary psychologists go as far as arguing we may have some kind of psychological modules built into our brains to detect betrayal.

Your Identity After Losing a Job

By Dawn R. Norris, Ph.D. on June 30, 2016 in The Next Step
I've lost my job. Now who am I?

Patriotic Music and Cultural Identity

How is it that music can be such a strong carrier of cultural identity? Examining music’s function in our lives may provide a clue.

Does Your Self-Concept Match How Others See You?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on June 28, 2016 in How To Do Life
A tool for comparing your self-assessment with how you're perceived

Growing Up With a Disabled Mother Made Me a (Better) Person

By Emily S. Beitiks on June 27, 2016 in The Age of Biotech
Do you assume having a disability is a burden on family and friends? Think again.

Ideological Extremism, Emotion, and Attitudes to Immigration

By Gregory R. Maio Ph.D. on June 27, 2016 in Attitude Check
Did Brexit happen because of ideology and attitudes to immigration?

Spectrum of Sexuality and Romance

We are not sexual and romantic categories but share our proclivities with many others.

Why You Should Never Call Your Picky Eater a "Picky Eater"

Parents know not to call their child, "The Dumb One." But Picky Eater? When identity shapes eating behavior, thoughts become reality.

Do You Actually Have a Personality?

Maybe you don’t have a permanent and context-free personality. Maybe you have numerous identities, which vary from situation to situation.
Getty Images

Straight, Not Straight, Gay, Not Gay

We believe that we understand a person if we know whether she or he is straight or gay. But there might be alternatives to these two categories.

Dear Fathers: Let's Talk to Our Sons About Toxic Masculinity

Fellow fathers, we've been doing a terrible job in terms of what we teach our kids about masculinity. So terrible, in fact, that we are partly responsible for the Orlando massacre.

Orlando Shooter´s Homophobia: Ideology or Identity?

Did Omar Mateen´s homophobia reflect outrage or identity? Counterintuitive, yet empirically corroborated, some individuals despise the same community with which they identify.