A crucial milestone in psychological development is developing a stable sense of self. People struggle with creating an identity in their teenage and typically achieve identity formation in young adulthood. Successful identity achievement helps a person clearly define who they are.
When you’re clear about who you are- your beliefs, values, interests, and opinions, you can commit to specific behaviors that align with who you are.
When people fail to develop a stable identity, they experience role confusion and identity disturbance. They lack a coherent and consistent identity. They remain psychologically stuck in childhood. They fail to become their own person.
Identity disturbance defined
Identity disturbance is a noticeable and persistent disturbance in one’s sense of self. While it’s normal to change your beliefs and values, those with identity disturbance keep doing it to the point of distress. They don’t have a core self to fall back on.
They don’t see themselves as the same person in the past, present, and future. Unlike those with a stable sense of self, they change too much with the changes taking place in their lives. They tend to be emotionally unstable and reactive.
Identity disturbance vs. MPD
Although very similar, identity disturbance is not the same as Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder. In the latter, the person switches their personality to a different one. Their body language, voice, and mannerisms change.
In identity disturbance, the person’s body language, voice, and mannerisms are conserved.
Identity disturbance is primarily a psychological struggle, not an overt personality change like MPD. Identity disturbance is characterized by having no sense of self, while MPD is characterized by switching entirely to a different self.
Identity disturbance is a distinguishing symptom of borderline personality disorder (BPD), but people without it can experience identity disturbance too.
Taking the identity disturbance test
This test consists of 12 items on a 5-point scale ranging from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree. It’s based on the common symptoms of identity disturbance. Your results will only be visible to you, and we don’t save them in our database.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.