Our systemic psychology
can help people resolve identifications
other identity issues,
change limiting beliefs and end obsessions.
Solutions for Identification & other Identity Loss
Identification is normal human behavior. People
identify with their occupations, their clothes, their cars and their countries.
They identify with family members, friends or football teams. They identify with their beliefs, their emotions
and with diagnostic labels.
Will you live and die defending your identifications? Temporary identification is an everyday human experience
when you imagine how other people feel.
The mechanism responsible for
the acquisition of emotional
responses that resemble those of
someone else is identification.
Identification is a learning
process by means of which one person
models himself or herself after
& T.Landsman, Healthy Personality, ISBN 0-02-361390-4
You can identify with almost anybody or anything, although the
duration and emotional intensity varies. At a cinema, if you
identify with an actor or actress, you may forget who you are and
feel strong emotions during a movie. If you identify with a team, you may forget
your own beliefs or hide your
values to conform
with the team.
My husband bought a new Mercedes - and he
was so proud of it.
When he found the first little scratch, he put his hand on his
stomach and groaned like someone had punched him.
Then I understood what identification means! Frankfurt
The extent to which you identify with whatever is not-you, is the extent to
which you lose access to your own identity, resulting in identity loss. If
especially as a child, identified with someone, you may remain
identified with that person for years or decades ...
unconsciously expressing emotions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that would
be more appropriate for that other person.
Identifying Psychotic Identification
Installing identifications is sometimes called
brainwashing. Students are expected to identify with their schools. Residents are expected to identify with their communities
and immigrants are expected to identify with a new country's values.
Some cults, religions and military organizations may
provoke psychotic identification - the acceptance and expression of previously
despised beliefs or unwanted values.
If you are identified, you may feel
something or somebody inside
you or very near you that strongly influences your
You may feel a sense of protection or a sense of doom.
Sometimes identification is called spirit possession,
in which a role model is perceived as an esoteric entity. Some people with exaggerated cases of
false identification may be labeled as having schizophrenia, multiple
personalities or bipolar disorder.
In the psychoanalytic literature there
is agreement that the core
meaning of identification is "to be like or to become like another".
It has been called '"the most perplexing
clinical/theoretical area" in
If you chronically identify with another person , you may seem to live in an
endless trance, with little contact with your own emotions, beliefs
and values. Your core identity may seem to be lost or hidden, and you act in ways that are more appropriate for
the role model.
Although identified people can rarely explain their
behavior and may offer strange justifications for their decisions,
identified behavior is predictable. Identified
emotions and beliefs are usually triggered by specific events, perhaps installed
by abuse, marketing or political rhetoric. Do you want to regain your own
(original) sense of self?
I lost myself in childhood so I joined
the army and was trained to be an obedient zombie.
I always knew there was more to me
... you helped me find the real me ...
lost and scared ... but ME. I am growing up and learning who I am! Boston
Most long-term identifications seem to be with family members - especially
family members who died prematurely (e.g. abortion or suicide),
or with family members who were perceived as victims. Occasionally people
identify with other important but less
obvious persons (e.g. a
parent's prior "true love").
Other forms of identity loss include
Lost Identity (total dissociation) and Identity Conflict
(identifying with two conflicting people).
Do you want to regain your natural or true
Symptoms of Identity Loss
Identity loss seems to follow systemic rules (although those rules were not at all obvious when we began this study). Some common types of identification show up as
inner conflict, often with anger,
sadness or anxiety.
I get angry if I see injustice
- it's like a demon possesses me.
it takes me over, then I can break things ...
I lose control. That's not good for a policeman. Hawaii
Lost Identity refers to chronic dissociated
behavior (picture a math professor pondering a complex equation) and
Identity Conflict refers to chronic bi-polar behavior swings (think
of classic descriptions of "split personality").
I realize now that because my
father was so weak,
I tried to be my own father ...
you helped me find myself and you helped me grow up.
It sounds ridiculous
but now I am much more
ME! Sydney, Australia
Who Suffers Identification?
Everybody is identified sometimes. The lights are on but someone else is
home. We help people find solutions. It can be easy to recognize - many identified people:
- Cannot specify timed goals
- Avoid finishing tasks or projects
- Offer endless justifications and excuses
- Are often depressed - their lives do not make sense
- Express strong, inappropriate anger, sadness or anxiety
- Seek endless distractions (may be called obsessive/compulsive)
- Only say what is important or what
makes sense by quoting other people
Although there are many reasons for any of these signals, a
those common behaviors would ring our systemic alarm bells.
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I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
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Martyn Carruthers, All rights reserved 2002-2015