Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Identity Crisis

  • Nicholas PapouchisEmail author
  • David Eisenach
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_592-1

“Miller (1958) I just can’t take hold, Mom. I can’t take hold of some kind of a life.” -Biff, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Erik Erikson’s Identity Theory

The father of the term “identity crisis,” Erik Erikson, later lamented the ubiquity of the concept due to its “singular and often erratic appeal” (1968, p. 11). Identity, that vague and malleable construct embraced from ego to pop psychology, therefore warrants a careful definition within the context of Erikson’s developmental theory. Erikson’s conceptualization of identity can be understood as the reciprocal influence of the internal and the external: the integration of “a subjective sense of sameness and continuity” with “a unity of personal and cultural identity rooted in an ancient people’s fate” (1968, p. 20). To exemplify the internal sense of identity, Erikson drew upon William James’s state of intense aliveness during which a voice inside says, “This is the real me!” (1920, p. 199). For cultural identity, Erikson...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Long Island UniversityBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.West End Psychological ServicesTorontoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin Meehan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLong Island UniversityBrooklynUSA