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Identity

Identity

HISTORY OF THE IDENTITY CONCEPT

TREATMENTS OF IDENTITY IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Identity is a pervasive concept in popular culture. Broadly speaking, identity refers to the overall character or personality of an individual or group. For example, a young mother might define her identity as that which reflects the essence of who she is (such as being a woman, spouse, and parent) and how she got to be that way. A business can have its own identity, perhaps defined by its unique corporate culture or its advertising history. Significant historical events like wars, natural disasters, or surges in immigration can play important roles in helping to define a nations identity.

On the one hand, the defining features of identity frequently entail elements that must be found by an individual or group. For example, a musical group or the cast of a television show might have to work together for a long period of time before its performances flow smoothly and effortlessly and it is able to establish its own voice or overall character. Adolescents as well as adults can pass through identity crises that refer to periods of personal uncertainty or confusion. When a sports coach talks about his or her team finding its identity, this may refer to the development or recognition of a consistent way of playing or performing.

On the other hand, individuals or groups can also lose their identity through a variety of events or circumstances. For example, when politicians, celebrities, or other public figures engage in controversial behavior, those individuals must frequently work to reclaim or redefine their identities. A company that has made poor business decisions might be referred to as having lost its corporate identity. The modern phenomenon of identity theft is another example of identity loss, although it is more accurate to refer to this phenomenon as identification or ID theft. The popularity of the identity theft label suggests that an important part of lay definitions of individual identities are the public, demographic, and commercial means of identification.

As the previous examples illustrate, the popular boundaries of the identity concept are quite broad. This concept is similarly pervasive and broad in the theories and research of the social sciences and humanities. Self and identity are frequently used interchangeably by such theorists and researchers. In fact, sometimes writers will combine the terms into concepts such as self-identity or ego-identity. Within the social sciences and humanities, different disciplines emphasize different components of the concept. Thus, it is useful to consider how different fields define and operationalize identity.

Social science theorists and researchers distinguish a large number of different kinds of identity. Examples of identity types include racial, ethnic, group, social, religious, occupational, gender and sex role, cultural, physical and bodily, musical, athletic, academic, and so forth. Among these different identity types, a common distinction is made between personal and social identities. Personal identity usually refers to the unique characteristics of a person, including personality traits, personal values, opinions and preferences, physical characteristics, and career and lifestyle choices. In other words, these refer to aspects of a persons identity that are distinct and different from other people. Social identity usually refers to ones social roles, such as gender, racial, religious, political, ideological, and national group memberships. Typically, these roles involve ways that a persons identity is similar to others, such as sharing a physical characteristic, speaking a common language, having a similar social class or socioeconomic status, practicing the same religion, or living in a common region.

Regardless of whether one focuses on personal or social facets, identity development involves a sense of sameness, continuity, and unity. Philosophically speaking, personal identity refers to the extent that an individuals characteristics are the same over time. That is, identity establishes the conditions that define a persons stable uniqueness. This can refer to the physical, psychological, and social aspects of the person. Thus, most social scientists agree that identity is something that develops over time and requires organization and integration, often achieved through the resolution of personal or social conflicts or crises. The failure to achieve some degree of identity coherence is thought to be a symptom of psychological, social, or cultural problems.

Identity also entails an individual commitment to a set of values and goals associated with specific characteristics. For example, much of personal identity involves identifying ones unique features and determining the value of those features and how they relate to a persons short-term and long-term goals. Social identity supposes an awareness of ones group memberships, as well as some level of commitment, closeness, or emotional attachment to those groups. People who highly value their social identities are more likely to act in ways that are consistent with those roles than people who do not value their social identities. Identity development is, therefore, tied to how people think about themselves and how they decide which aspects of their experience are most important as they define themselves. In other words, the development of identity involves personal and social processes of definition, construction, and negotiation.

HISTORY OF THE IDENTITY CONCEPT

The pervasiveness of identity-related concerns is a relatively recent cultural and historical phenomenon. The psychologist Roy Baumeister (1986) described several influential social trends in European and American societies running from about 1500 to 1800. During these centuries, a variety of social, cultural, and economic changes corresponded with a shift in how philosophers, artists, writers, and the lay public viewed personhood and identity. Since the Middle Ages, there has been a weakening of the importance of a persons geographical home and of the institutions of marriage and job in defining ones identity. At the same time, the formerly important roles of ones family of ancestry, social rank, gender, and religion have been at least somewhat trivialized. Thus, traditions and institutions that had previously defined peoples identity lost importance and influence.

These changes corresponded with new views on what constituted a persons identity. For example, people began to consider the possibility that there is a hidden self; that individuality is important; that there is a separation of their public, social lives from their private lives; and that children develop and have their own potentialities worthy of attention. In other words, the boundaries of identity became increasingly broad and malleable. Baumeister (1986) argued that these trends continued through the twentieth century, reflecting an age of mass consumption, greater occupational choices, dramatic technological changes, and the marketing of both products and people. The net effect of these social, cultural, and economic changes is that people in industrialized societies are now plagued with difficulties in defining their identities. Because of the loss of traditional ways of knowing who one is, the more abstract, elusive sense of identity makes it increasingly difficult to define. Much more than was the case one hundred or two hundred years ago, people must work to find or uncover who they are, in order to resolve the dilemmas of modern personhood.

Contemporary identity requires choice, achievement, and frequent self-redefinitions as opposed to the passive assignment of identity of the past. With the widespread desire for establishing and determining ones individuality and uniqueness comes greater difficulty, choice, and effort in achieving this. For instance, modern identity can be constructed out of ones personality traits, material possessions, personal accomplishments, group memberships, and activities and organizations. For these reasons, various writers have labeled identity as empty, saturated, and overburdened, and as reflecting an epidemic of role distance (Hoyle et al. 1999, p. 49). Some writers argue that European and American cultures extreme preoccupation with an inner, independent identity leads to a devaluing or ignoring of the social world and the potential negative effects of contemporary social arrangements. This causes a seeking out of experiences and material possessions in order to avoid feelings of worthlessness or identity confusion.

TREATMENTS OF IDENTITY IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Identity is a topic of extensive theory and research for many of the social sciences. Two disciplines that have devoted a great deal of attention to identity are sociology and psychology. Sociologists generally define the overall self as consisting of multiple identities tied to the different roles a person plays in the social world. Early twentieth-century sociologists such as Charles Horton Cooley (18641929) and George Herbert Mead (18631931) emphasized how other people provide reflected appraisals that encourage the understanding and establishment of a sense of identity. In his 1959 book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, the sociologist Erving Goffman (19221982) brought a dramaturgical approach to social identity. Goffman theorized that people play social roles like actors on a stage, claiming and becoming committed to a particular public or group identity. Part of this identity includes a public face that a person claims and then defends in social interaction. In later writings, Goffman presented the idea of a spoiled identity, in which a person can be stigmatized as a result of deviant behaviors or personal characteristics.

More recently, the symbolic interactionist perspective has assumed a prominent role in the sociological approach to identity. Contemporary versions of symbolic interactionism examine how a persons identity is affected by the elements of social structure, in particular the social positions or roles that one plays and the meanings and expectations associated with those roles (Stets and Burke 2003). Role identities may differ in number, prominence, salience, and value to an individual, and sociologists have conducted a great deal of research on these aspects of role identity. For example, a greater number of role identities have been associated with greater resistance to stress and more positive mental health, particularly when those identities are voluntary or freely chosen ones rather than when they are conferred or obligatory.

The meaning of a role identity is something that a person must determine and negotiate. As such, it can be affected by the reactions of others. Over time, there can be changes in a role, as well as in the identity associated with that role. For example, when a person takes on a new role of being a spouse in a married couple, specific behaviors associated with that role must be defined and may change over time. In addition, the definition and boundaries of the spouse identity can change. Thus, the taking on, development, internalization, and changing of multiple roles comprise the most important features of identity from a sociological perspective.

Within psychology, the best-known treatment of identity comes from Erik Eriksons (19021994) psychosocial stages of development across the lifespan (Erikson 1968). When and how does a coherent sense of identity develop? Research suggests that identity concerns are especially prominent among late adolescents and early adults. This seems to be due to the fact that it is only by this time that young people become physically and sexually mature, are competent in abstract thought, show increased emotional stability, and have a certain amount of freedom from parental and peer constraints. Younger children are typically not assumed to have an identity (at least in the overall coherent and stable sense of the term). However, aspects of identity (e.g., age, sex, and race) have been shown to be important to the self-perceptions and self-definitions of younger, preadolescent children. Understanding how a person is similar to and different from others is an important part of identity formation. In this regard, significant others can help to define the developing sense of identity.

In Eriksons theory, adolescence is a time of increased power and responsibility and also a time when young adults must determine who they are and where they fit into their culture and society. Thus, the struggle for a sense of identity and the formation of a philosophy of life seems to be especially intense during this period. There are several different ways that young adults might deal with their identity struggles (Marcia 1980). For example, a person might show identity foreclosure. This can occur when people prematurely commit to and unquestioningly adopt the beliefs, values, or roles prescribed by parents rather than going through the process of developing their own beliefs, values, and career choices. Second, people may delay commitment in order to try out alternative identities, beliefs, roles, or behaviors. In this situation, called an identity moratorium, such people are actively caught up in the throes of the identity struggle and are striving to resolve it. However, they have yet to develop a coherent and stable identity.

A third possible outcome of the young adulthood identity crisis is called identity diffusion. This refers to an unwillingness to confront the challenge of charting a life course and a failure to achieve a stable and integrated sense of self. Unlike in the moratorium, such people show little concern or effort to resolve their self-doubt, apathy, and passivity. Finally, people can arrive at a sense of self and direction and form an integrated image of themselves as unique persons. This is called identity achievement. Such individuals have passed successfully through the identity crisis and are now able to make a commitment to a career objective and a personally meaningful set of beliefs and values. For Erikson and other identity theorists, adequate identity formation is the foundation of sound psychological health in adulthood. Identity confusion can interfere with important developmental transitions during the adult years.

More recent psychological approaches to identity include the idea that self-narratives or life stories serve as central features in the creation of a persons identity. Psychological research also shows that people engage in a wide variety of behaviors to construct, test, and confirm their identities. For example, social psychologists have studied the processes by which people present specific identity aspects to others and manage the impressions that others form of them. What makes particular identity characteristics salient is likely to be tied to the social setting or context. Psychologists are also interested in studying how organized cognitive structures (or schemata) serve to maintain a persons identity. For instance, cognitive structures can filter out competing or inconsistent information or lead to other forms of biased information processing that serves to protect or maintain ones identity.

Whereas sociologically based identity theories focus more on the different roles that constitute a persons identity, psychologically based social identity theory deals with how membership in groups is associated with self-categorization and social identities. For example, those who belong to the same group are seen as ingroup members, whereas nonmembers or those who belong to different groups are seen as outgroup members. A large amount of research has shown that such ingroup-outgroup categorization (sometimes based on arbitrarily defined group membership) results in ingroup favoritism and outgroup discrimination. Thus, it appears that merely belonging to a group can create meaningful social identities with strong attitudinal (e.g., prejudice) and behavioral (e.g., discrimination) implications.

Other disciplines within the social sciences and humanities also have utilized the identity concept in their theories and research. For example, political scientists are interested in the role of identity as a source of peoples political beliefs or political party affiliation. They are also interested in how identity is affected by isolation, alienation, anomie, and social injustices in modern society and how these problems impact social structure, political party affiliation, political action, and international relations. As such, the identity concept is one of many factors that can affect political actions and larger social conflicts.

Political scientists sometimes focus on how membership in particular groups is associated with a specific identity that may have implications for social movements, community mobilization, and other forms of collective behavior. That is, through the identification or construction of a collective identity, groups may be able to increase pride and consciousness, mobilize resources, and bring about societal changes. In other words, groups may strive to expand the range of a particular identity characteristic into a political force with accompanying social and legislative reforms. This process is referred to as identity politics. Examples of identities that fall into this category include religion, race, ethnicity, gender, and physical disability. Critics have argued that politicizing an identity component can be counterproductive to the goal of social change. For example, by calling attention to a specific identity, a group may find it more difficult to address the social injustices associated with it. Or there may be broader social or cultural backlashes directed toward a group identity.

Anthropologists and other social scientists have explored the processes of cultural identification and cultural variations in identity construction. A popular distinction relates to identity differences that are based on independent (or individualistic) and interdependent (or collectivistic) cultural construals. Educational researchers consider the development of academic identity and the relationship of various identity facets to academic achievement. Business and marketing researchers examine the mechanisms and processes associated with developing a corporate or brand identity in consumers. Within the humanities, a great deal of attention has been devoted to cultural and historical trends in the construction and management of identity (e.g., identity politics) and how identity is represented in and affected by works of art, music, theater, and literature.

Some of the current issues related to the identity concept include how to best measure the different kinds of identities and how multiple identities (and conflicts among these) affect behavior in specific situations. In addition, the development of different kinds of identities and how they interrelate from childhood through adulthood has received little research attention. How do multiple identities overlap and affect individual and group behavior? This is a particularly important question when considering broad social, cultural, or nationalistic actions, where several different identities may combine or conflict. For example, adopted or biracial children may experience unique issues as they attempt to develop their racial or cultural identity. More broadly speaking, one of the effects of an increasingly multicultural world is that the establishment of ones identity may become more difficult or complicated. One interesting domain for identity theorists and researchers concerns how technological changes, particularly those associated with the Internet, affect identity processes. For example, the social scientist Sherry Turkle (1995) has shown that exploration of new, alternative, and multiple identities has become significantly easier and more varied through online communities, multiuser domains, role-playing games, and fantasy worlds.

In summary, identity is a very broad and influential concept in the social sciences and humanities. It has proven to be remarkably fluid and malleable, with different disciplines able to define identity in ways that best suit their purposes and emphases. The cultural and historical trends that led to changes in identity over the past several centuries are likely to continue to provide new challenges to identity formation in the future. Increasing globalization, industrial development, scientific advances, and technological innovations will mean that difficulties in defining identity will be a worldwide phenomenon.

SEE ALSO Adolescent Psychology; Cyberspace; Economics, Behavioral; Economics, Stratification; Erikson, Erik; Ethnicity; Gender; Goffman, Erving; Groups; Hybridity; Identity Crisis; Identity Matrix; Identity, Social; Internet; Nation; Nationalism and Nationality; Performance; Personality; Politics, Gender; Politics, Identity; Popular Culture; Psychology; Race; Representation; Role Theory; Self-Classification; Self-Representation; Social Science; Sociology; Stages of Development; Values

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baumeister, Roy F. 1986. Identity: Cultural Change and the Struggle for Self. New York: Oxford University Press.

Erikson, Erik H. 1968. Identity, Youth, and Crisis. New York: Norton.

Hoyle, Rick H., Michael H. Kernis, Mark R. Leary, and Mark W. Baldwin. 1999. Selfhood: Identity, Esteem, Regulation. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Marcia, James E. 1980. Identity in Adolescence. In Handbook of Adolescent Psychology, ed. Joseph Adelson, 159187. New York: Wiley.

Stets, Jan E., and Peter J. Burke. 2003. A Sociological Approach to Self and Identity. In Handbook of Self and Identity, eds. Mark R. Leary and June Price Tangney, 128152. New York: Guilford.

Turkle, Sherry. 1995. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Shuster.

Thomas M. Brinthaupt

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Identity

Identity

Establishing the identity of spirit communicators has been a difficult problem for psychical researchers. Nineteenth-century Russian Spiritualist A. N. Aksakof conceded, "Absolute proof of spirit identity is impossible to obtain; we must be content with relative proof." Psychical researcher Charles Richet agreed, saying, "Subjective metapsychics will always be radically incapable of proving survival."

Sir Oliver Lodge suggested that the question of identity in spirit communication could be established (1) by gradually accumulated internal evidence based on thorough and meticulous records; (2) by cross correspondences, that is, the reception of unintelligible parts of one consistent and coherent message through different mediums; or (3) by information or criteria especially characteristic of the supposed communicating intelligence and, if possible, in some sense new to the world.

The role of the communicating spirit in a Spiritualist séance is somewhat complicated. The spirit acts like a prompter in the theater. The automatic script or trance speech delivered through the medium is seldom in his or her own hand or voice. The medium's organism acts like a freshly painted sieve; it tints whatever it lets through. Besides, communication is an art itself and has its own inherent difficulties. Direct voice séances, materialization in good light, lifelike personation of the departed, or the transfiguration of the medium, which afford more dramatic evidence with less opportunity for self-deception, are comparatively rare.

Many spirit entities claim to be ancient or historic personalities, and the problem of establishing the identity of such entities is almost impossible. Impersonation frequently occurs. According to the entity "Imperator," in a script of Rev. William Stainton Moses, "There is much insanity among lower spirits. The assumption of great names, when it is not the work of conscious deceivers, is the product of insanity. The spirit imagines itself to be some great one, fancies how he would act, and so projects his imaginings on the sphere of the medium's consciousness."

If the information claimed as proof of identity of famous personages is verifiable, it cannot be proved that such facts were not fraudulently gathered by the medium before the séance, that the information was inaccessible to the medium's subconscious mind, or that it was not obtained through clairvoyance. Furthermore, "Rector," another control of Stainton Moses, purportedly had the power to read books. Such power would open up a storehouse of pertinent information for so-called deceiving spirits.

Therefore, the difficulties of proof of spirit identity are almost insurmountable, a major reason why psychical research has largely abandoned the task. On a practical level, however, the human elementpersonal information embedded in the complexity of lifeoften provides convincing material to an individual who receives a communication through a medium.

One of the earliest cases of such convincing identity proof was registered by the Rev. J. B. Ferguson in his book Spirit Communion (1854). According to Ferguson's account, his cousin O. F. Parker died on August 5, 1854, in St. Louis. On the following day, in Maryville, Kentucky, Mrs. Ferguson was controlled by his spirit. Part of the communication was "My books I ordered to be sold to defray my funeral expenses, but it was not done. I am afraid, too, that there will be some flaw picked in my life policy, and if so I wish you to order my books to be sold to pay my debts, and if they fail, do not fail then from any delicacy of feeling to write to my mother, and she will have all properly settled. The policy is now in the hands of Mr. Hitchcock."

The Reverend Ferguson affirmed that until the communication the only account they had of his cousin's death was a short telegram. Because every detail was found correct, he considered the evidence of identity overwhelming.

C. H. Foster was visited in 1874 in San Francisco by the Honorable Charles E. de Long, a perfect stranger to him. Foster said he had a message for Ida and asked the visitor if this name meant anything to him. It was the name of de Long's wife. Foster asked him to bring her, and when she came he delivered the following message by means of automatic writing : "To my daughter, Ida. Ten years ago I entrusted a large sum to Thomas Madden to invest for me in certain lands. After my death he failed to account for the investment to my executors. The money was invested and 1,250 acres of land were bought, and one half of this land now belongs to you. I paid Madden on account of my share of the purchase 650 dollars. He must be made to make a settlement. Your father, Vineyard." This story proved to be true. Madden admitted it and made restitution.

An often-quoted case in Spiritualist literature is that of the steamroller suicide. The notes of Rev. Stainton Moses are as follows: "February 20, 1874. Dr. and Mrs. Speer and I dined with Mrs. Gregory, to meet the Baron du Potet, the celebrated magnetist and spiritualist. Mr. Percival was of the party. During dinner I was conscious of a strange influence in the room and mentioned the fact. The Baron had previously magnetised me very strongly, and had rendered me more than usually clairvoyant. He also recognised a spirit in the room, but thought it was the spirit of a living person. After dinner, when we got upstairs, I felt an uncontrollable inclination to write, and I asked the Baron to lay his hand upon my arm. It began to move very soon and I fell into a deep trance. As far as I can gather from the witnesses, the hand then wrote out 'I killed myself to-day.' This was preceded by a very rude drawing, and then 'Under steam-roller, Baker Street, medium passed,' (i.e., W. S. M.) was written. At the same time I spoke in the trance and rose and apparently motioned something away, saying 'Blood' several times. This was repeated and the spirit asked for prayer. Mrs. G. said a few words of prayer, and I came out of the trance at last, feeling very unwell.

"On the following day Dr. Speer and I walked down Baker Street and asked the policeman on duty if any accident had occurred there. He told us that a man had been killed by the steamroller at 9 A.M. and that he himself had helped to carry the body to Marylebone Workhouse."

The only flaw in this case is that the Pall Mall Gazette published a short account of the suicide the same evening and this might have been subconsciously seen by the medium. The name was not known, nor was it disclosed by Moses.

Dr. Isaac Funk, the New York editor, handed a letter to Lenora Piper containing the word mother. Piper gave the Christian name of Funk's mother, told him that she was walking on only one leg and asked, "Don't you remember that needle?" She had hurt herself by thrusting a needle into her foot. Piper also described a grandson, Chester, of whom Funk knew nothing. Upon inquiry, however, he found out that a grandson of that name had died 20 years earlier.

Dr. Joseph Vezzano established the identity of a materialized form in a séance given by Eusapia Palladino and describes it in Annals of Psychic Science (vol. 6, September 1907, p. 164) as follows: "In spite of the dimness of the light I could distinctly see Mme. Palladino and my fellow sitters. Suddenly I perceived that behind me was a form, fairly tall, which was leaning its head on my left shoulder and sobbing violently, so that those present could hear the sobs; it kissed me repeatedly. I clearly perceived the outlines of this face, which touched my own, and I felt the very fine and abundant hair in contact with my left cheek, so that I could be quite sure that it was a woman.

"The table then began to move, and typtology gave the name of a close family connection who was known to no-one present except myself. She had died some time before and on account of incompatability [sic] of temperament there had been serious disagreements with her. I was so far from expecting this typtological response that I at first thought this was a case of coincidence of name, but whilst I was mentally forming this reflection I felt a mouth, with warm breath, touch my left ear and whisper in a low voice in Genoese dialect, a succession of sentences, the murmur of which was audible to the sitters. These sentences were broken by bursts of weeping, and their gist was to repeatedly implore pardon for injuries done to me, with a fullness of detail connected with family affairs which could only be known to the person in question.

"The phenomenon seemed so real that I felt compelled to reply to the excuses offered me with expressions of affection, and to ask pardon in my turn if my resentment of the wrongs referred to had been excessive. But I had scarcely uttered the first syllables when two hands, with exquisite delicacy, applied themselves to my lips and prevented my continuing. The form then said to me: 'Thank you,' embraced me, kissed me, and disappeared."

According to Theodore Flournoy, this case was nothing more than the objectification of the emotional complex existing within the subconscious mind of Vezzano. There is food for thought, even for those who incline to differ, in his following remark: "The invasion or subjugation of the organism of the medium by a psychic complex belonging to a strange individual is not more easy to explain if that individuality be a spirit of the dead than if it is or belongs to one of the sitters in flesh and blood. And in this equally difficult question there is no reason to attribute to the discarnate or to the spirit world phenomena which can as readily be explained by the phenomena of our empirical world."

The pearl tie-pin case of Sir William Barrett has been frequently cited. Through the medium Hester Dowden, a Mrs. C. obtained a message spelled out on the Ouija board: "Tell mother to give my pearl tie-pin to the girl I was going to marry." The message allegedly came from a cousin of Mrs. C's, an officer who had been killed a month earlier. The name and address was returned and the whole message was thought ficitious. Six months later, however, it was discovered that the officer had been engaged to the lady. The war office returned his effectsa pearl tie-pin among themand it was found that he put the lady's name in his will as his beneficiary.

Ernesto Bozzano recorded that in a sitting held on July 23, 1928, with the Marquise Centurione Scotto in Millesimo Castle, a voice addressed him as follows: "O Ernesto Bozzano, O my dear, my dear, I sought you in London, I sought you in Genoa, at last I find you." He immediately recognized the voice; the words carried a strong southern accent like that of Eusapia Palladino. He later noted: "This, her first manifestation, was a great revelation to me from the point of view of personal identification of the communicating spirit; because, without the faintest shadow of doubt, I recognised the person who was speaking to me the moment she pronounced my name. In life she had her own particular way of enunciating my surname, for she pronounced the two z's in an inimitable manner. Not only so, for when she spoke to me in life, she never called me simply by my surname, but invariably added my Christian name, though she never used the word 'Mr.' These small but most important idiosyncrasies of language are really what constitute the best demonstration of the real presence of the agency which affirms that it is actually present. I must add that she spoke with the identical timbre of voice which she had in life and with the very marked accent of her Italianized Neapolitan dialect."

Many visions of deceased soldiers were recorded by clairvoyants during the world wars. Mrs. E. A. Cannock of London described at a Spiritualist meeting a novel and convincing method employed by the fallen soldiers to make their identity known. In her vision they advanced in single file up the aisle, led by a young lieutenant. Each man bore on his chest a large placard with his name and the place where he lived inscribed. Cannock read the names and the place. The audience identified them one after the other. After recognition the spirit form faded and made way for the next one.

There has been no shortage of evidence of communication from servicemen who died in World War II. One of the most distinguished champions of such communication was Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, who was head of fighter command in the Battle of Britain. He obtained convincing evidence of spirit communication from servicemen at sittings with such famous mediums as Estelle Roberts, which he later compiled in his books Many Mansions (1943) and Lychgate (1945).

Of course, such convincing personal evidence of identity in spirit communications does not reach the level demanded by scientific criteria. However, thousands of people from all walks of life have been assured of and based their affirmation of survival upon such impressive clairaudient and clairvoyant messages through a medium or psychic.

Sources:

Baird, Alexander T. One Hundred Cases for Survival After Death. New York: Bernard Ackerman, 1944.

Christopher, Milbourne. Search for the Soul: An Insider's Report on the Continuing Quest by Psychics and Scientists for Evidence of Life After Death. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1979.

Currie, Ian. You Cannot Die: The Incredible Findings of a Century of Research on Death. New York: Methuen; London: Hamlyn, 1978.

Ducasse, C. J. Paranormal Phenomena, Science, and Life After Death. New York: Parapsychology Foundation, 1969.

Garrett, Eileen J., ed. Does Man Survive Death? A Symposium. New York: Helix Press, 1957.

Hart, Hornell. The Enigma of Survival: The Case For and Against An After Life. Springfield, Ill.: Charles Thomas, 1959.

Hyslop, James H. Contact With the Other World: The Latest Evidence as to Communication with the Dead. New York: Century, 1919.

Kastenbaum, Robert, ed. Between Life and Death. New York: Springer, 1979.

Murphy, Gardner. Three Papers on the Survival Problem. New York: American Society for Psychical Research, 1945.

Richmond, Kenneth. Evidence of Identity. London: G. Bell, 1939.

Salter, W. H. Zoar; or, The Evidence of Psychical Research Concerning Survival. London: Sidwick & Jackson, 1961.

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identity

identity Although the term identity has a long history—deriving from the Latin root idem implying sameness and continuity—it was not until the twentieth century that the term came into popular usage. Discussions of identity take two major forms—psychodynamic and sociological. A central thrust of both traditions has been to challenge essentialist understandings of the concept. These assume a unique core or essence to identity—the ‘real me’—which is coherent and remains more or less the same throughout life. Against this the emphasis within both sociological and psychoanalytic theories has been, to varying degrees, the invented and constructed character of identity.

The psychodynamic tradition emerges with Freud's theory of identification, through which the child comes to assimilate (or introject) external persons or objects, usually the superego of the parent. Psychodynamic theory stresses the inner core of a psychic structure as having a continuous (though often conflicting) identity. The psycho-historian Erik Erikson saw identity as a process ‘located’ in the core of the individual, and yet also in the core of his or her communal culture, hence making a connection between community and individual. He developed the term identity crisis during the Second World War, in reference to patients who had ‘lost a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity’, and subsequently generalized it to a whole stage of life (as part of his epigenetic life-stage model of the eight life-stage of man). Here, youth is identified as a universal crisis period of potential identity confusion. Subsequently, the term ‘identity crisis’ has moved into common parlance.

The sociological tradition of identity theory is linked to symbolic interactionism and emerges from the pragmatic theory of the self discussed by William James and George Herbert Mead. The self is a distinctively human capacity which enables people to reflect on their nature and the social world through communication and language. Both James and Mead see the self as a process with two phases: the ‘I’, which is knower, inner, subjective, creative, determining, and unknowable; and the ‘Me’, which is the more known, outer, determined, and social phase. Identification, here, is a process of naming, of placing ourselves in socially constructed categories, with language holding a central position in this process. In the later works of Erving Goffman and Peter Berger, identity is stated clearly to be ‘socially bestowed, socially sustained and socially transformed’ (Berger, Invitation to Sociology, 1966).

Developments in social theory associated with structuralism and post–structuralism share the concern with language and representation more broadly which was integral to the symbolic interactionist approach to identity. Structuralism and post-structuralism, however, more assertively emphasize the constitutive or deeply formative role of language and representation in the making of identity. Underpinning both structuralism and post-structuralism are the insights of the Swiss structural linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (see The Course in General Linguistics, 1949
). Saussure's work emphasized the way meaning in language was produced, not through the intention of the speaking or writing subject, but by the interplay of signs. Language itself was a structured system which produced meaning. In a radical formulation, Saussure suggested that it was language which effectively spoke the individual by subjecting him or her to its rules, rather than the other way around. Saussure's account of language has been used to argue that all social and cultural meanings are produced within language or systems of representation more generally. In other words the world around us, and our place in it, is given meaning—made meaningful—within representation. In an important sense, therefore, who we are—our sense of identity—is shaped by the meanings attached to particular attributes, capacities, and forms of conduct.

The French philosopher Michel Foucault, building on the broad thrust of Saussure's arguments, took this account of identity further through his work on discourse or discursive formations. Discourse, for Foucault, shaped ways of talking about or representing or knowing a particular object. In his work on the growth of the modern prison, for example, he argued that penal discourses (such as criminology) produced a distinct set of ways of talking about and knowing the criminal and the criminal mind (see his Discipline and Punish, 1977
). Importantly, for Foucault, these discourses furnished positions for agency and identity. They did so both for the knowing subject (the expert criminologist) and for the known (the criminal). The raw material for identity, then, was formed within discourses, taken up and inhabited by an individual, shaping and forming a sense of identity in the process.

Foucault's work also introduces an element which has become central to recent accounts of identity. This is the insistence that we, as individuals, inhabit multiple identities. There are two key dimensions to this assertion. The first—and most important to Foucault himself—is that different discourses generate particular and often divergent positions for agency and identity. Discourses associated with religion, the state, sport, or consumption produce discrete and often contradictory versions of the self. We are, within this perspective, each addressed by a range of possible versions of ourselves: as devout believer, as taxpayer, football supporter, or hedonist. The second dimension is that the multiple identities we inhabit in relation to a range of social practices are themselves linked to larger structures of identity. What is usually cited here are structures like class, ethnicity, ‘race’, gender, and sexuality. It is important to note, however, that these different identities are not discrete—they interact with each other. As Catherine Hall has shown in relation to nineteenth-century middle-class men in Britain, their masculinity was dependent upon and secured not only through class-based dispositions, but also through particular kinds of ethnicity (‘Englishness’) and race (‘whiteness’) (see White, Male and Middle Class, 1993
). Gender, ethnicity, and race, as in this example, are not partitioned but interwoven.

A further development of this concern with the interfusing of identities has emphasized the hybridity of cultural identities. The notion of hybridity suggests—most importantly in relation to ‘racial’ and ethnic identities—that identities are not pure but the product of mixing, fusion, and creolization. Underlying this account of identity is an attention to the mixing and movement of cultures. Figuring prominently in this are the diverse forms of cultural traffic—from the slave trade to the contemporary circulation of media forms—which have helped to shape the modern world (see, for example, Paul Gilroy , Black Atlantic, 1993
). The resulting fusion or hybridity of identities is not the product of the assimilation of one culture or cultural tradition by another, but the production of something new. Studies of the hybridity of cultural identity are closely allied to accounts of diaspora identities. Diaspora is a term that was initially used to refer to the dispersal of Jewish people across the globe, but is now regularly used to describe a Black diaspora, the movement and trafficking of people of African origins across continents. Diaspora identities are shaped by this sense of having been, in Salman Rushdie's phrase, ‘borne across the world’ (see his Imaginary Homelands, 1991
); of being ‘in’ but not entirely (or only) ‘of’ the West.

A different conception of identity is stressed by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lacan developed Freud's work via the influence of Saussure and emphasized the split and alienated aspects of identity. In what is, in large degree, a rigorous reworking of Freud's writings on narcissism, Lacan defines the infant's first sense of itself (its first self-identification) as coming through its imaginary positioning by its own mirror-image (see his essay on ‘The Mirror Phase as Formative of the Function of the “I”’, 1968
). Looking at its own reflection, or literally reflected in its mother's eyes, Lacan argues that the infant misrecognizes itself as its mirror-image; and is taken in by its own image in a moment of gestalt. Lacan describes this as an instance of primary narcissistic identification, and it is for him the basis and prototype of all future identifications. The splitting or misrecognition at the heart of this process is exemplary for Lacan; it establishes the subject's enduring relation to the visual field as an alienated or decentred experience, a split between the external ‘ideal ego’ (the mirror-image) and the internalized ‘ego ideal’.

Discussions of identity have been prominent in sociology and have spawned a huge literature, including many plays and novels, in which the quest for identity or the breakdown of the self are primary themes. These accounts tend to divide into two main camps: an optimistic and a pessimistic version. For the optimists, the modern world has brought with it increasing individuality and choice over a wider range of identities. Thus, people are more likely to self-actualize: to discover an inner self which is not artificially imposed by tradition, culture or religion; and to embark upon quests for greater individuality, self-understanding, flexibility, and difference. By contrast, pessimists portray a mass society of estrangement: for example, the psychodynamic tradition highlights the loss of boundaries between self and culture, and the rise of the narcissistic personality; while the sociologists see a trend towards fragmentation, homelessness, and meaninglessness, and bemoan the loss of authority in the public world through the growth of self-absorption and selfishness.

There is, therefore, no clear concept of identity in modern sociology. It is used widely and loosely in reference to one's sense of self, and one's feelings and ideas about oneself, as for example in the terms ‘gender identity’ or ‘class identity’. It is sometimes assumed that our identity comes from the expectations attached to the social roles that we occupy, and which we then internalize, so that it is formed through the process of socialization. Alternatively, it is elsewhere assumed that we construct our identities more actively out of the materials presented to us during socialization, or in our various roles. However, Goffman's work (in particular The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), which looks at the complex ways in which we present ourselves to other people, a process which might be termed identity management) raises a crucial issue that is unresolved in all camps: namely, the question of whether or not there is an authentic self or identity behind the various masks which we present to others. See also PERSONALITY; PSYCHOANALYSIS; REFLEXIVE MODERNIZATION.

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Identity

IDENTITY

Identity is not a Freudian concept. Theoreticians have defined it in very different ways: as a structure that accounts for narcissism and is part of the ego; as the ability to remain the same despite changes; as a feeling of continuity; or as the sum of representations of the self.

The importance of the notion of identity in the United States is related to its use in ego-psychology, which considers the ego as a relatively autonomous and potentially conflict-free structure. Many theories of identity adapt a portion of Freud's view of the ego. Alongside the Freudian ego, which is a structure defined by its functions, another egoor identity related to identificationsis posited (whether inside or outside ego-psychology) and conceived of as the outcome of a process of individuation.

The first mentions of the importance of the concept of identity for clinical practice and psychopathology date from the nineteen-fifties. When it first appeared in psychoanalytic discourse, the concept of identity was associated with two approaches. The first was an attempt to extend the Freudian perspective to a general psychology that would include the ego's relationships with the surrounding world and guide research on child development. The second sought to apply psychoanalysis to pathologies, more serious than neurosis, characterized by disturbances of identity. Phyllis Greenacre evoked the internal and external faces of identity, and described their favorable and unfavorable aspects. Ralph Greenson isolated a screen-identity syndrome. Margaret Mahler viewed identity as a facet of development connected with object-relations, symbiosis, and the possibility of separation-individuation.

Two major psychoanalytical theorists have focused on identity. In 1956 Erik Erikson introduced the concept of an ego identity formed during adolescence, which served as a gauge of psychopathology. In 1961 Heinz Lichtenstein proposed giving identity the priority that the libido had for Freud. He considered it the keystone of psychopathology and eventually reframed Freudian metapsychology within a monist perspective that challenged the dualistic concept of identification.

Erikson hoped to explain human development epigenetically; the various stages of his model could not be reduced to the psychosexual level. The ego was not propelled by drives alone but must confront the challenges posed by the environment. Ego identity was the adolescent stage; it took over from various identifications and its successful establishment depended on the resolution of earlier developmental crises. Erikson's ego identity was defined by the unconscious quest for personal continuity, by the synthesis of the ego, and by group loyalties. It reflected an existential dimension of the ego. It was formed through a succession of syntheses of the ego whereby the conflicts of earlier stages were integrated. The opposite of ego identity was a diffusion of identity, a pathological syndrome in which representations of self and object are fluid and unintegrated, and oppositionalism and acting out are manifested. Otto Kernberg used this model as a diagnostic criterion for borderline states.

Lichtenstein looked upon human identity as a permanent dilemma because of the absence of any form of guarantee. The theme of an invariable identity arose from an unconscious imprint derived from the mother thanks to a process of mirror reflection. Variations on this theme constituted the feeling of identity, a creation unique to the child. Pathological developments occurred when themes emerged that were impossible to satisfy yet necessary for the maintenance of identity. In such case a subject could be caught in a paradoxical oscillation between the search for an annihilating other and an isolating autonomy. The principle of identity was the central motivation for the human individual, who was obliged to maintain an identity under more or less continual threat. This principle replaced the reality principle in Lichtenstein's account, and the drives as well as the repetition compulsion were subservient to it. Identity was assimilated to narcissism, described as a primary thematic with secondary variants. It left room for the self, the fourth metapsychological dimension and third paradigm of psychoanalysis. Identity was part of an evolutionist view that rejected dualism of any kind.

Historically speaking, theories of identity were replaced by theories of the self and by the "self psychology" of Heinz Kohut.

These are psychological theories in which the unconscious and libido are secondary. As Freud pointed out, however, unity and synthesis are superficial concepts. Drawing on such criticism, Kohut characterized Erikson's identity as a descriptive psychosocial concept. Edith Jacobson questioned the relevance and universality of so-called disturbances of identity, which she considered exaggerated. Roy Schafer interpreted the emergence of the concept of identity as symptomatic of a subjectivity stripped of a mechanistic and reifying metapsychology and hence in need of reformulation. Merely descriptive theories of identity may be said to belong to the sphere of phenomenology. When the conceptual focus is on identity, the ego is cut off from its libidinal roots. Furthermore, the view that underpins these theories is exclusively developmental and completely rejects any causality based on deferred effects.

AgnÈs Oppenheimer

See also: Adhesive identification; Adolescent crisis; Anthropology and psychoanalysis; Double, the; Ego (ego psychology); Ego-identity; Identification; Imposter; Object relations theory; Principle of identity preservation; Projection and "paticipation mystique" (analytical psychology); Self-consciousness; Self-image; Self representation; Sexual identity; Symbiosis/symbiotic relation.

Bibliography

Erikson, Erik. (1956). The problem of ego identity. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 56-121.

Greenacre, Phyllis. (1958). Early physical determinants in the development of the sense of identity. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6, 612-627.

Greenson, Roger. (1958). Variations in classical psychoanalytic technique. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 29, 200-201.

Lichtenstein, Heinz. (1983). Identity and sexuality. The dilemma of human identity. New York: Jason Aronson.

Mahler, Margaret. (1958). Problems of identity. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6, 131-142.

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identity

i·den·ti·ty / īˈdentitē/ • n. (pl. -ties) 1. the fact of being who or what a person or thing is: he knows the identity of the bombers | she believes she is the victim of mistaken identity. ∎  the characteristics determining this: attempts to define a distinct Canadian identity. ∎  [as adj.] chiefly Brit. (of an object) serving to establish who the holder, owner, or wearer is by bearing their name and often other details such as a signature or photograph: an identity card. 2. a close similarity or affinity: the initiative created an identity between the city and the suburbs. 3. Math. (also identity operation) a transformation that leaves an object unchanged. ∎  (also identity element) an element of a set that, if combined with another element by a specified binary operation, leaves that element unchanged. 4. Math. the equality of two expressions for all values of the quantities expressed by letters, or an equation expressing this, e.g., (x + 1)2 = x2 + 2x + 1. ORIGIN: late 16th cent. (in the sense ‘quality of being identical’): from late Latin identitas, from Latin idem ‘same.’

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identity

identity, in philosophy, problem of distinguishing sameness from change, or unity from diversity; primarily examined in connection with personal identity, universals, and the law of identity in logic. In personal identity the concern has been to determine whether anything in the body or mind remains constant; philosophers have reached no general agreement on this point. The term identity has also become increasingly important in modern psychology, largely through the work of Erik Erikson. He has used the term to designate a sense of self that develops in the course of a man's life and that both relates him to and sets him apart from his social milieu. The terms "identity crisis" and "identity confusion," introduced by Erikson, have gained a wide usage, which often varies from their intended technical sense.

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identity

identity quality of being the same. XVI. — late L. identitās, f. L. idem same.
So identic(al), identify XVII. — medL.

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T. F. HOAD. "identity." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Identity

IDENTITY.

This entry includes two subentries.

Identity of Persons
Personal and Social Identity

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identity

identitybanditti, bitty, chitty, city, committee, ditty, gritty, intercity, kitty, nitty-gritty, Pitti, pity, pretty, shitty, slitty, smriti, spitty, titty, vittae, witty •fifty, fifty-fifty, nifty, shifty, swiftie, thrifty •guilty, kiltie, silty •flinty, linty, minty, shinty •ballistae, Christie, Corpus Christi, misty, twisty, wristy •sixty •deity, gaiety (US gayety), laity, simultaneity, spontaneity •contemporaneity, corporeity, femineity, heterogeneity, homogeneity •anxiety, contrariety, dubiety, impiety, impropriety, inebriety, notoriety, piety, satiety, sobriety, ubiety, variety •moiety •acuity, ambiguity, annuity, assiduity, congruity, contiguity, continuity, exiguity, fatuity, fortuity, gratuity, ingenuity, perpetuity, perspicuity, promiscuity, suety, superfluity, tenuity, vacuity •rabbity •improbity, probity •acerbity • witchetty • crotchety •heredity •acidity, acridity, aridity, avidity, cupidity, flaccidity, fluidity, frigidity, humidity, hybridity, insipidity, intrepidity, limpidity, liquidity, lividity, lucidity, morbidity, placidity, putridity, quiddity, rabidity, rancidity, rapidity, rigidity, solidity, stolidity, stupidity, tepidity, timidity, torpidity, torridity, turgidity, validity, vapidity •commodity, oddity •immodesty, modesty •crudity, nudity •fecundity, jocundity, moribundity, profundity, rotundity, rubicundity •absurdity • difficulty • gadgety •majesty • fidgety • rackety •pernickety, rickety •biscuity •banality, duality, fatality, finality, ideality, legality, locality, modality, morality, natality, orality, reality, regality, rurality, tonality, totality, venality, vitality, vocality •fidelity •ability, agility, civility, debility, docility, edibility, facility, fertility, flexility, fragility, futility, gentility, hostility, humility, imbecility, infantility, juvenility, liability, mobility, nihility, nobility, nubility, puerility, senility, servility, stability, sterility, tactility, tranquillity (US tranquility), usability, utility, versatility, viability, virility, volatility •ringlety •equality, frivolity, jollity, polity, quality •credulity, garrulity, sedulity •nullity •amity, calamity •extremity • enmity •anonymity, dimity, equanimity, magnanimity, proximity, pseudonymity, pusillanimity, unanimity •comity •conformity, deformity, enormity, multiformity, uniformity •subcommittee • pepperminty •infirmity •Christianity, humanity, inanity, profanity, sanity, urbanity, vanity •amnesty •lenity, obscenity, serenity •indemnity, solemnity •mundanity • amenity •affinity, asininity, clandestinity, divinity, femininity, infinity, masculinity, salinity, trinity, vicinity, virginity •benignity, dignity, malignity •honesty •community, immunity, importunity, impunity, opportunity, unity •confraternity, eternity, fraternity, maternity, modernity, paternity, taciturnity •serendipity, snippety •uppity •angularity, barbarity, bipolarity, charity, circularity, clarity, complementarity, familiarity, granularity, hilarity, insularity, irregularity, jocularity, linearity, parity, particularity, peculiarity, polarity, popularity, regularity, secularity, similarity, singularity, solidarity, subsidiarity, unitarity, vernacularity, vulgarity •alacrity • sacristy •ambidexterity, asperity, austerity, celerity, dexterity, ferrety, posterity, prosperity, severity, sincerity, temerity, verity •celebrity • integrity • rarity •authority, inferiority, juniority, majority, minority, priority, seniority, sonority, sorority, superiority •mediocrity • sovereignty • salubrity •entirety •futurity, immaturity, impurity, maturity, obscurity, purity, security, surety •touristy •audacity, capacity, fugacity, loquacity, mendacity, opacity, perspicacity, pertinacity, pugnacity, rapacity, sagacity, sequacity, tenacity, veracity, vivacity, voracity •laxity •sparsity, varsity •necessity •complexity, perplexity •density, immensity, propensity, tensity •scarcity • obesity •felicity, toxicity •fixity, prolixity •benedicite, nicety •anfractuosity, animosity, atrocity, bellicosity, curiosity, fabulosity, ferocity, generosity, grandiosity, impecuniosity, impetuosity, jocosity, luminosity, monstrosity, nebulosity, pomposity, ponderosity, porosity, preciosity, precocity, reciprocity, religiosity, scrupulosity, sinuosity, sumptuosity, velocity, verbosity, virtuosity, viscosity •paucity • falsity • caducity • russety •adversity, biodiversity, diversity, perversity, university •sacrosanctity, sanctity •chastity •entity, identity •quantity • certainty •cavity, concavity, depravity, gravity •travesty • suavity •brevity, levity, longevity •velvety • naivety •activity, nativity •equity •antiquity, iniquity, obliquity, ubiquity •propinquity

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