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Ermann, M. (2004). Editorial: Identity in Change. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 13(4):209-210.

(2004). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 13(4):209-210

Editorial: Identity in Change

Michael Ermann

Originally the subject of Identity was a domain of sociology and social psychology. Since the basic contributions of H. E. Erikson in the 1950s, it has also involved psychoanalysts and become an approach for understanding the emergence and function of a “social” self. With Jacobson, Mahler and modern infant research it was absorbed by the concept of the Self and became a component of self-psychology without being regarded as an area of its own.

Not until the last decade of the 20th century did an increasing interest in identity re-emerge among psychoanalysts. It was based on the rapid social change of the western world and culture, which caused what social human sciences conceptualised as a collective identity crisis. The question how the changed environmental conditions affect the psychic constitution and whether or how identity changes under the influence of the conditions of the modern world tends to become more and more pressing today.

It turns out that Erikson's idea of a gradual development, which, after the individual has gone through the “normative” identity crisis during adolescence, leads to a relatively long lasting identity state, can hardly be maintained in our time. Instead, another aspect, which was already contained in Erikson's developmental model, became predominant - the idea of a long-lasting identity process. According to current ideas the identity process does not come to an end after the individual has passed through the normative identity and developmental crises, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood.

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