Table of Contents
Resolve Identity Loss © Martyn Carruthers
Our systemic psychology can help people resolve identifications
and other identity issues, change limiting beliefs and end obsessions.
Solutions for Identification & other Identity Loss
Identification is normal human behavior. People identify with their occupations, their clothes, their cars and their countries. They identify with family members, friends or football teams. They identify with their beliefs, their emotions and with diagnostic labels.
Will you live and die defending your identifications? Temporary identification is an everyday human experience when you imagine how other people feel. It’s normal.
The mechanism responsible for the acquisition of emotional
responses that resemble those of someone else is identification.
Identification is a learning process by means of which one person
models himself or herself after another.
S.Jourard & T.Landsman, Healthy Personality, ISBN 0-02-361390-4
You can identify with almost anybody or anything, although the duration and emotional intensity varies. At a cinema, if you identify with an actor or actress, you may forget who you are and feel strong emotions during a movie. If you identify with a team, you may forget your own beliefs or hide your values to conform with the team.
My husband bought a new Mercedes – and he was so proud of it.
When he found the first little scratch, he put his hand on his
stomach and groaned like someone had punched him.
Then I understood what identification means! Frankfurt
The extent to which you identify with whatever is not-you, is the extent to which you lose access to your own identity, resulting in identity loss. If you, especially as a child, identified with someone, you may remain identified with that person for years or decades … unconsciously expressing emotions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that would be more appropriate for that other person.
Identifying Psychotic Identification
Installing identifications is sometimes called brainwashing. Students are expected to identify with their schools. Residents are expected to identify with their communities and immigrants are expected to identify with a new country’s values.
Some cults, religions and military organizations may provoke psychotic identification – the acceptance and expression of previously despised beliefs or unwanted values.
If you are identified, you may feel something or somebody inside
you or very near you that strongly influences your behavior.
You may feel a sense of protection or a sense of doom.
Sometimes identification is called spirit possession, in which a role model is perceived as an esoteric entity. Some people with exaggerated cases of false identification may be labeled as having schizophrenia, multiple personalities or bipolar disorder.
In the psychoanalytic literature there is agreement that the core
meaning of identification is “to be like or to become like another”.
It has been called ‘”the most perplexing clinical/theoretical area” in
If you chronically identify with another person , you may seem to live in an endless trance, with little contact with your own emotions, beliefs and values. Your core identity may seem to be lost or hidden, and you act in ways that are more appropriate for the role model.
Although identified people can rarely explain their behavior and may offer strange justifications for their decisions, identified behavior is predictable. Identified emotions and beliefs are usually triggered by specific events, perhaps installed by abuse, marketing or political rhetoric. Do you want to regain your own (original) sense of self?
I lost myself in childhood so I joined the army and was trained to be an obedient zombie.
I always knew there was more to me … you helped me find the real me … small,
lost and scared … but ME. I am growing up and learning who I am! Boston
Most long-term identifications seem to be with family members – especially family members who died prematurely (e.g. abortion or suicide), or with family members who were perceived as victims. Occasionally people identify with other important but less obvious persons (e.g. a parent’s prior “true love”).
Other forms of identity loss include Lost Identity (total dissociation) and Identity Conflict (identifying with two conflicting people).
Do you want to regain your natural or true identity?
Symptoms of Identity Loss
Identity loss seems to follow systemic rules (although those rules were not at all obvious when we began this study). Some common types of identification show up as inner conflict, often with anger, sadness or anxiety.
- People identified with two people often express chronic conflict
- People identified with heroes often express chronic fear and anxiety
- People identified with dead people often express chronic melancholy
- People identified with victims often express chronic anger and suspicion
- People identified with an abuser often repeat that person’s abusive behavior
I get angry if I see injustice – it’s like a demon possesses me.
If it takes me over, then I can break things … or people.
I lose control. That’s not good for a policeman. Hawaii
Lost Identity refers to chronic dissociated behavior (picture a math professor pondering a complex equation) and Identity Conflict refers to chronic bi-polar behavior swings (think of classic descriptions of “split personality”).
I realize now that because my father was so weak, I tried to be my own father …
you helped me find myself and you helped me grow up. It sounds ridiculous
but now I am much more ME! Sydney, Australia
Who Suffers Identification?
Everybody is identified sometimes. The lights are on but someone else is home. We help people find solutions. It can be easy to recognize – many identified people:
- Cannot specify timed goals
- Avoid finishing tasks or projects
- Offer endless justifications and excuses
- Are often depressed – their lives do not make sense
- Express strong, inappropriate anger, sadness or anxiety
- Seek endless distractions (may be called obsessive/compulsive)
- Only say what is important or what makes sense by quoting other people
Although there are many reasons for any of these signals, a few of
those common behaviors would ring our systemic alarm bells.