Psychological Identity and Identity Crisis

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

The loss of the psychological identity loss

Brad is a very happy and successful person. He earns a big salary, His wife loves him and he has accomplished most of what he wanted to achieve in life. Everything in Brad’s life was perfect and this was reflected in the way he walks,talks and in his confident attitude.

One day while he was happily driving back his way to home he received a phone call from his wife who told him “Brad, I don't want you in my life anymore. I know that this is a surprise for you but it's my final decision.”

Brad's wife hung up and he suddenly felt worthless. He felt that all of his confidence and happiness had been lost. Ever since that day Brad became an unhappy, desperate and a bad-tempered person.

What happened to Brad? What happened to his confident and strong character?
What happened is that his wife's call made him lose his psychological identity.

What is a psychological identity

Identity or psychological identity is your capacity for self-reflection and awareness. People usually acquire their identities through the tasks they do and the objects they identify themselves with. For example, if you asked someone “who are you?” and he replied saying “I am the restaurant’s chef“, then this person identities himself with his job and thinks of himself as the chef instead of Robin or Tom.

Here are some examples of people identifying with other objects or other people in life:

  • Identity with a person: Children who try to imitate their parents and dress like them are doing so because they are attempting to identify with their parents.
  • Identifying with a job: A person who proudly speaks of his profession and answers the question of “Who are you?” with his job’s title is a person who is identifying himself with his job.
  • Identifying with an object: A person who proudly drives his big car may be identifying with his car. He is showing off just to show that he is rich but because he thinks of himself as the “Expensive Car Owner”. This is usually the same person whom you will find him walking with his head down when he suffers from financial crisis that forces him to replace his car with a smaller one. This happens because he identified himself with his car and so when the car was gone he found himself with no psychological identity. He used to be the "Expensive Car Owner", now he is nothing.

Brad's psychological identity

Now let’s go back to Brad. Brad identified himself as the “successful person” who have a great career and a loving wife. If you asked Brad "who are you?" he might have replied saying "i am Brad the successful engineer"

So what was Brad’s problem and why did his self-confidence desert him? Brad's problem was that he identified with a mortal object, namely success, so as soon as the object was lost he lost his psychological identity and felt worthless.

Psychological identity Crisis

Identity Crisis is a psychological term that describes someone who's in the constant state of searching for his identity. So identity crisis doesn’t refer to real crisis but it just describes a normal stage of personality development. Now the real problem happens when the person fails to find a suitable identity and ends up with a fragile one.

As soon as the person who didn't find the right Psychological identity faces a big life challenge he will usually lose this fragile identity and ends up searching for a new one. Haven’t you ever met a person who always seems to be trying new roles over and over without adhering to any of them?

This is usually the behaviour of a person who is suffering from an identity crisis. Identity crisis can give a powerful blow to your self-confidence and your self-image, and that’s why building a solid identity is something that can make you more confident and more solid when you face life challenges.

Some people even go a step further and identify themselves with their relationship partners to the extent that they fail to get over them just because of the fear of losing their identity. In book How to get over anyone in few days i described how you can get over this problem by announcing the breakup as soon as it happens so that you help yourself develop the new identity quickly.

How to avoid a psychological identity crisis?

As you saw in Brad’s story identifying with a mortal object (his success in professional and family life) resulted in losing his identity when he lost that object.

Brad should have identified himself with his skills and abilities instead of identifying himself with his achievements because even if he lost his achievements his abilities and skills won't go. After all, it's his abilities and skills that made him succeed and by identifying with them he will be able to better protect his self worth.

If Brad identified himself as “a persistent, intelligent and strong person” he wouldn't have faced an identity crisis at all.

One of the very good things that you could do is to identify yourself with God!!!

"Who are you sir?"...“I am God’s Servant”. Can anybody lose this identity? No, it’s the most solid identity that someone can ever acquire because in this case the person is identifying himself with an immortal... God himself!!! People who identity themselves with God tend to feel more worthy because they have the belief that if they were not that important then God would have not created them.

Religion and Identity

What’s so bad is that some people get involved into new things just because they are trying to find an identity. For instance, some people try to get into religion just to identify themselves as religious people or a preachers.

Of course I am in no position to say whether God want those people or not but what I can say is that the people who learned about religion because they found solid facts for creation such as these ones are much better than those who got into a religion such because they want an identity.

Identifying with Objects

Some people go further and identify themselves with precious objects and even places. For example when someone creates a group on facebook “I love starbucks” then make sure that he is trying to identify with that place because it makes him feel more worthy.

This doesn't mean that all people who join online groups want to seek an identity but of course some of them did it for that reason.

Final Words about psychological Identity

The more you make your psychological identity dependent on your job, your wealth, your friend’s love or any external object, the more likely you will lose this identity when you lose that external object.

On the other hand, the more you make your identity dependent on a constant the less likely you are going to suffer from a psychological identity crisis.

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