No death, no doom, no anguish can arouse the surpassing despair which flows from a loss of identity.
We have many identities that we acquire from our past experiences and cultural backgrounds. These
identities may be broadly classified as positive (the identities we like) and negative (the identities we dislike).
For example, you may have a positive identity of ‘being a successful person’ and a negative identity of ‘being short-tempered’.
Identity crisis happens when a person loses a psychological identity- when he loses a way he used to define himself. It can be either an identity that he liked (positive) or an identity he disliked (negative), but in most cases, an identity crisis is often the result of losing an identity that served to increase a person’s self-worth i.e. a positive identity.
Identity and the ego
If you have a friend who owns a Mercedes, he’ll see himself as ‘the Mercedes owner’ and project that identity to the world to boost his self-worth. If your brother studied at MIT, he’ll project the identity of being an MITian to the world.
People become strongly attached to their identities for a strong and valid reason- it helps them maintain their self-worth, a fundamental goal of all humans. So, losing an identity means losing one’s self-worth and nobody wants that.
When a person loses one of their important, ego-boosting identity, identity crises happens.
The only way to avoid an identity crisis is not to identify with temporary things at all. I know that’s easier said than done, but you can do it by increasing your awareness of psychological phenomena and objectifying them. One way would be becoming more knowledgeable by reading articles such as the one you’re reading right now.
Since our goal is to maintain our self-worth and prevent it from being too fragile, the only logical solution is to identify with permanent, long-lasting things.
When you identify with your knowledge, skills, and personality, this sort of identification will remain with you until the day you die. You can’t lose these things in a fire, accident or a divorce.