WHAT IS THE IDENTITY IN MENTAL HEALTH?
According to the “identity process theory” (Breakwell,
1986), identity is concerned with the impact of events, and particularly ‘threats’
on identity. Identity can be seen as made
up of several factors:
- 1-Continuity – which implies that people will attempt
to reconcile changes in themselves with their past history.
- 2-Distinctiveness –which distinguishes one individual
from others and also serves to put
people into groups (e.g. gender or ethnic groups, social groups). We tend to seek positive ways of being
- 3-Self-esteem –which can be viewed as motivation
to sustain and improve a positive self- concept.
A satisfied and well-adjusted
individual would have a strong sense of continuity, moderate distinctiveness,
and high self-esteem. People often do
not fit this profile, either because they have not developed these
characteristics or because ‘threats’ such as loss of employment have affected
them. Such threats to identity can cause extreme distress.
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