Life Cycle - Political Psychology

Life Cycle

According to Erickson, one of the basic coordinates of identity is the life cycle. The scientist proceeded from the assumption that not only to adolescence, the individual develops the prerequisites for his psychological growth, mental maturation and social responsibility. The American psychologist introduces the concept of "identity crisis". Each person goes his own way of development, experiences his crises and finds their solution.

Any stage becomes a crisis, because the beginning growth and the awareness of the new are associated with changes in the energy of the instincts. The word crisis Erickson uses it to highlight not the threat of a disaster, but the moment of change, the critical period of heightened vulnerability.

The most radical changes, beginning with the depths of inner life and ending with its external manifestations, occur at the very beginning of life. What can be considered the earliest and most undifferentiated "feeling of identity"? E. Erickson believes that it is generated by the meeting of the mother and the baby, giving mutual trust and mutual recognition. It is in all its childish simplicity and is the first experience of what will later manifest itself again in love, in the ability to admire and what can be called the feeling of the "blessed presence", the need for which throughout life remains the basis for man.

The absence of this feeling or its weakening can dangerously limit the ability of experiencing the "identity" when in adolescence a person can leave childhood and meet adulthood and begin to personally choose his love affair with it. Each next stage and each subsequent crisis has a certain connection with one of the basic aspirations of man for the simple reason that the life cycle of a person and social institutions develop simultaneously. Between them, according to Erickson, a double bond: each new generation brings to institutions the vestiges of infantile needs and youthful ardor and takes from them a specific reinforcement of their children's vitality.

The American psychologist believed that identity crises can be studied by artistic creations and original acts of great people who were able to solve it for themselves. The omnipresent chaos of human existence demonstrates unique solutions for this period. However, before plunging into the clinical and biological problems of what is known in the psychology of emergencies as confusion of identity, it is necessary to clarify the concept of the "identity crisis".

In human essence there is much, except for identity, in each individual there is I, the center of consciousness and will, which must transcend and experience psychological identity.

E. Erickson introduces another significant concept - the "psychological moratorium", which refers to the postponement granted to someone who is not ready to accept responsibility or would like to give himself time to prepare for a mature life. Under the psychosocial moratorium, Erickson understands the delay in assuming adult responsibilities. Every society and every culture establishes a certain moratorium for its young citizens. For most of them, these moratoriums coincide with the period of teaching and those achievements of this period of life that correspond to the values ​​of society.

A moratorium can become a period of thefts and visions, travel time or work, time lost "youth" or academic life, a time of self-sacrifice or merry jokes. Most of juvenile crime, Erickson sees as an attempt to create a psychosocial moratorium. However, the moratorium does not require that you be consciously experienced. At the same time, a young person can feel completely fulfilled and only in time learn that what he took so seriously was just a transitional period. Many recovered the delicts may feel a complete alienation from the "stupidity" they passed through. Meanwhile, it is clear that any experiments with identity mean also a game with an inner fire of emotions and motivations and contain the risk of getting into a social pit from which there is no way out. It also happens that there is no moratorium: an individual was too early identified or some circumstances contributed to his achievements.

E. Erickson makes a distinction between the concepts identity and identification & quot ;. Linguistically, like psychologically, identity and identification have a common root. Identification is a psychological mechanism, and identity is the result of the process of assimilation. The American psychologist shows that the limitation of the identification mechanism becomes apparent immediately, as soon as we assume that no child identifications placed in a row can lead to a normally functioning personality. Psychology believes that the task of psychotherapy is to replace painful and excessive identifications with other, more desirable ones. However, like any medicine, more desirable identification must be fully subordinated to a new single gestalt, which is something more than just the sum of its parts.

The fact is that identification as a mechanism has certain limitations. At different stages of development, children identify themselves with those aspects of the surrounding people that make the greatest impression on them, in reality or in the imagination - it does not really matter. Their identification with parents, for example, focuses on certain overestimated and painfully perceived parts of the body, abilities and external attributes of the role. Moreover, these aspects are attractive not so much for their social significance, as for those that correspond to the nature of children's fantasy and thus open the way to more realistic self-assertion.

At an older age the child encounters a hierarchy of roles that he understands, from younger siblings to grandparents and all who somehow belong to the family as a whole. Throughout his childhood, this constitutes a circle of his ideas about what he can become when he grows up, and already very young children are capable of identification with a number of people and relationships that then require "verification" in later life. That is why cultural and historical changes can have such a traumatic influence on the formation of identity: they can destroy the inner hierarchy of the child's expectations.

In turn, the fate of children's identities depends on how satisfactory is the interaction with trustworthy representatives of the hierarchy of roles important to the child belonging to family members of different generations. Formation of identity, finally, begins where identification becomes unsuitable. It grows out of selective rejection of one and the mutual assimilation of other children's identities and their unification into a new configuration, which in turn is determined by the process through which society (often through subcultures) identifies the young individual with who he, naturally, should become. Society, often not without initial mistrust, does this with a touch of surprise and pleasure from acquaintance with the new individual. The society, in turn, too, is "recognized" an individual who is seeking recognition from him. Sometimes it is, according to some indications, it can be rejected deeply and with a touch of vindictiveness by an individual who does not seek his protection.

Public methods of identifying an individual subsequently more or less successfully interface with individual methods of identification. If society finds that a young person causes displeasure and discomfort, it can offer him ways to change that do not affect his identification with himself & quot ;. The desired change, from the point of view of society, is a simple manifestation of goodwill or willpower (he could if he wanted), whereas resistance to such a change is perceived as a manifestation of an evil will or even inferiority, bad heredity or something like that. So, society often underestimates to what extent a long complex childhood history limits the young person's ability to change identity, and also to what extent society itself can, if only it can, help it to decide among the possible choices.


Throughout childhood, a trial crystallization of identity takes place, which causes the individual to feel and believe (from the most conscious aspects) that if he knows approximately who he is, he only needs to understand that this self-confidence is again can become a victim of a break in self-development. An example is the gap between the requirements of a particular environment for a "little boy" and the same requirements for a "big boy" who, in turn, may wonder why he was first made to believe that being small is fine, only for then to force to change this effortless status to specific duties of "big".

Such a gap can at any time lead to a crisis that can be compensated only by a consistent increase in the sense of the reality of achievements. An ingenious, or cruel, or a good little boy who becomes diligent, or a polite or hardy, hardy big boy, should be able - and he should be given this opportunity - to connect both sets of values ​​to that identity that allows him to work and game, in formal and intimate behavior (and let others be) a combination of a big and a small boy.

Society supports this development in the sense that it gives the child the opportunity at each stage to orient towards the full "life cycle" with its hierarchy of roles represented by individuals of different ages. The family, neighbors and school provide contacts and trial identification with younger and older children, with young and old adults. As a result of many successful trial identifications, the child begins to have expectations about what it means to be older and what it means to be younger, expectations that become part of identity as they are, step by step, tested by psychosocial experience.

Established by the end of adolescence, identity includes all meaningful identifications, but at the same time modifies them to create a single and causally connected whole.

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