Friday 22 June 2007

Identity defined

Identity is defined as an “abiding sense of the self and of the relationship of the self to the world.” (Northrup (1989)

The complexity of identity is shaped by individual characteristics, family dynamics and social and political factors. Answering the question, “Who am I?” Tatrum (1997) says that the core of identity is also in the core of his communal culture. Identity employs a process on reflection and observations, a process that takes place in all levels of mental functioning. Tatrum states,

“The individual judges himself in the light of what he perceives to
be the way in which others judge him in comparison to themselves
and to a typology significant to them; while he judges their way of
judging him in the light of how he perceives himself in comparison
to them and to types that have become relevant to him.”

We have multiple identities, the mother, the professor, the student, the child, the teacher, I am white, I am black, I am Palestinian from the Amar Family, I am Israeli, a sabra. Some parts of our identities are projected to other people, they notice and reflect that back on us. We identify with socio-economic status, physical or mental ability, gender, religion or sexual orientation. These different identities can be associated with sexism, racisms, and oppression into the systemically advantaged or disadvantaged. There are dominant identities and targeted identities and they can occur at the same time.

Dominant groups “set the parameters within which the subordinates operate” (1997 Tatrum) the dominant group holds the power and authority in a society. It determines who gets the best jobs, whose “history will be targeted in school” what relationships are validated by society having the greater influence.

Group affiliation, is important because the “individual is identified on the basis of group affiliation and individual needs defined in terms of communal interests.” (Cohen 1991) In groups across cultures, the Americans, the British, the French, The Palestinians all have a specific group identity that is applied to them as a culture. They are members of the community that holds that affiliation.

Because identity holds the sense of “self”, then when the self is feeling threatened it can lead towards conflict. The shaking of ones world disrupts the core and central part of our being. This central parts of our being are called “core constructs” the nature of the entire system, the life and the role that we play. When there in unpredictability of the world around us, it becomes terrifying because the individual senses threat to that core. In turn, it develops in inner urgency, a redefinition of the inner self, to accept or reject the new definition.

When someone moves into our “territory” and that identity is threatened and forced to change the natural response is anger and conflict. Resulting in a struggle to hold on to that sense of self and the sense of where and who we are in this world. We are in constant relationship with the world, with time, people and space. And for us, the core sense of self is relativity stable and we would like to keep it that way.

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