Psychoanalytic View on Identification in Relation to Adult Identity
Identification is a crucial concept in psychoanalysis, developed by Sigmund Freud, that plays a significant role in the formation of a person's identity. It is the process through which individuals internalize certain qualities, traits, and values of another person or group, primarily during their childhood. These identifications serve as templates for the development of one's own personality and contribute to shaping their adult identity.
According to Freud, the primary mode of identification occurs during the Oedipal phase, where a child desires the parent of the opposite sex and sees the same-sex parent as a rival. This intense emotional conflict leads to identification with the same-sex parent, providing a solution to resolve the Oedipal complex. Through this identification, the child internalizes the values, behaviors, and beliefs of the same-sex parent, forming the basis of their gender identity.
However, identification extends beyond the parent-child relationship and includes broader social identifications. Children identify with different individuals and groups in their environment, such as siblings, friends, teachers, or cultural figures. These identifications contribute to the development of various aspects of their personality, including social roles, cultural norms, and moral values.
In adulthood, these early identifications continue to influence an individual's sense of self and identity. They become an integral part of one's internal world and serve as a reference point for evaluating oneself and others. Adult identity is therefore a complex interplay between one's conscious choices and the unconscious identifications formed during childhood.
Importantly, identification is not limited to the positive aspects of a role model or group. Negative identifications, known as anti-identifications, also play a significant role in shaping adult identity. These involve the rejection or opposition of qualities or behaviors perceived as undesirable. For example, a person may identify themselves as being "not like their parents" or consciously avoid certain traits they associate with negative experiences.
The psychoanalytic perspective emphasizes that identification is a continuous process that occurs throughout one's lifespan. It is not limited to early childhood but can occur in adolescence and adulthood as well. These later identifications are often related to the individuation process, where individuals seek to establish their unique identity by integrating aspects of different role models and rejecting others.
Understanding the role of identification in adult identity is essential in psychoanalytic therapy. By exploring and analyzing a person's identifications, therapists can gain insights into the unconscious factors influencing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This self-awareness provides an opportunity for individuals to re-evaluate and potentially redefine their identity, fostering personal growth and development.
In conclusion, according to the psychoanalytic view, identification is a fundamental process in the formation of adult identity. It encompasses the internalization of qualities and values from significant individuals and groups during childhood, with these identifications shaping one's sense of self. These identifications can be both positive and negative, and they continue to influence an individual's identity throughout their life. Recognizing and understanding one's identifications is important for personal growth and can be explored further in psychoanalytic therapy.