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

Our Divided America

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D. on December 11, 2017 in Theory of Knowledge
We need to face fully the divide in this country and use the principles of family therapy to move in a new and more productive direction.
iclipart, used with permission

Multiple Personality or Malingering?

By Joni E Johnston Psy.D. on December 11, 2017 in The Human Equation
What happens when a person with multiple personalities kills? Pamela Moss claimed her alters were linked to two murders committed years apart but insisted she, the host, was not.

Changing Your Sense of Identity

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on December 04, 2017 in Compassion Matters
How can we challenge a prescribed sense of identity, peel back the layers, and find out who we really are?

Are You Living With an Accidental Identity?

By Lisa Firestone Ph.D. on November 30, 2017 in Compassion Matters
While we can change our identity at any point in life, in order to live freely as our truest selves, we have to explore the early influences that injured our sense of who we are.

How Militarism is Changing America's Identity

By Ray Williams on November 28, 2017 in Wired for Success
U.S. military dominance and the diminishing influence of civilian control reinforced by growing authoritarianism should be cause for alarm in America.

What Should Psychology Be?

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D. on November 28, 2017 in Theory of Knowledge
Since the American Psychological Association released a retrospective on the past 125 years in the field, right now is a great time to look toward the future.
Frank Vincentz (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Dude-Sex, Bud-Sex, Mostly Straight Sex

Male-male sex could be opportunistic, a means to prove one’s heterosexuality and masculinity, or a sexual/romantic orientation and identity.

Why We Might Feel Lonely Around Narcissism

By Grant Hilary Brenner M.D. on November 13, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Experiencing an unstable sense of self is a challenging experience on many levels. Empathy in narcissism is shaped by sense of self, as researchers are exploring.

The "T" in LGBTQ

By Jennifer O’Brien Ph.D. on November 07, 2017 in All Things LGBTQ
An annotated guide to some definitions and terminology related to variations in gender identity.
Rebecca [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Who and What Is a Pansexual?

Pansexuality offers teenagers an opportunity not to rule out anyone solely because of sex or gender. It explodes traditional categorical identities: straight, bisexual, and gay.

The Masks We Wear

With halloween approaching, we enthusiastically search for "the perfect mask". Similarly, adolescents adopt different identities and styles. How can we best support our teens?

Psychotherapy in the Trump Era

The forces shaping our politics are also shaping our therapies.

What Does Identity Have to Do With Inequality?

Does identity explain inequality?

How Stewart Copeland and Adrian Belew Keep Their Mojo Light

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on October 12, 2017 in Brick by Brick
The mask conceals the true identity.

Some Thoughts on National Coming Out Day

By Gemima St. Louis Ph.D. on October 11, 2017 in Mind Matters
The goal of National Coming Out Day is to promote a world in which it is safe for LGBT people to be open and honest about their identities.

How Helping Others Can Relieve Anxiety and Depression

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on October 10, 2017 in Think, Act, Be
A new study shows that thinking of others' well-being may be more beneficial than trying to boost our self-image. courtesy of

How to Co-Parent with a Narcissist

Here are the things that you need to know to help your children when your co-parent has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Sarah Loreth/Flickr

How Much Should You Care About Your Future? It Depends.

By Rob Henderson on September 28, 2017 in After Service
How do you care about your future self? The answer will surprise you.
Digger tom/wikimedia commons

Stuck in a Pile of Dirt (Henry-1)

By Elizabeth Young on September 24, 2017 in Adaptations
As Henry lands on the ground, he knows that his life has just changed forever.

But This Job Isn’t Me!

By Dawn R. Norris, Ph.D. on September 23, 2017 in The Next Step
What's a hidden reason that underemployment can be as bad for mental health as being completely unemployed?

Talking About Sexuality with Transgender and Nonbinary Teens

Wondering how to be inclusive in your practice when talking about the intersections of gender, sexual orientation and sexual behavior? Here are some important steps to consider.

Embarrassment, Guilt, and Shame

Our possibilities for cooperating depend on respecting other people and courting their regard. Embarrassment, guilt, and shame keep us attentive to those concerns.

Keeping Your Job, Losing Your Identity

By Dawn R. Norris, Ph.D. on August 29, 2017 in The Next Step
What if others tell you that you’re not the employee you think you are?

When Facing Life Transitions, Check Your Social Groups

By Jolanda Jetten Ph.D. on August 22, 2017 in Social Cures
How to be best prepared for life transitions? Perhaps you should check your social groups.

Counseling a Person With a Multiple Personality Disorder

Dissociation is a coping mechanism. A person literally dissociates himself from a situation that's too violent, traumatic or painful to assimilate with his conscious self.

Why We Hate People Who Disagree

By Mark Alicke Ph.D. on August 13, 2017 in Why We Blame
Can we like people who disagree with us?

Sexual Disorientation of Male Sexual Abuse Survivors

Sexual abuse disorients you; it does not orient you. Consider straight men who have sex with men due to childhood sexual abuse.
Randy Williams

Jack the Ripper Was Not ‘He’ But ‘They’

Distinctly different approach to identifying Jack the Ripper looks at groups that advocate violence for social manipulation.

Americans Intoxicated

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on July 01, 2017 in A Swim in Denial
It’s an angry era in America. Instead of debating who’s right or wrong, let’s ask what kinds of work anger is doing for Americans now? And what's behind it?

6 Ways That Childhood Trauma Affects Your Adult Relationship

Dissociation unplugs us from ourselves, interfering with identity formation throughout development. Recovery starts with recognition, moving toward more connected identities.