Sociology Index

Identity Crisis

Erik Erikson coined the term “identity crisis” to explain failure to achieve ego identity during adolescence during which we undergo physical growth and sexual maturation, and are faced with the problem of integrating our ideas of ourselves and about what others think of us. Resolution of “identity crisis” depends on one’s progress through previous eight developmental stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. Advancing through the eight life stages is a function of negotiating his or her biological forces and sociocultural forces.

Erikson's interest in identity started in childhood. His studies of cultural life among the Yurok of northern California and the Sioux of South Dakota helped formalize his ideas about identity development and identity crisis. He described adolescents going through an identity crisis as those exhibiting confusion. Identity crisis is an internal conflict of identity and also the crisis of search for identity. Adolescence is a period of intense, self-analysis to seek ways to understand himself or herself.

Adolescents ask many questions about themselves during identity crisis, a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself.