Marcia new - IDENTITY: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THEORY...

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Adolescence, Identity, and the Bernardone Family James E. Marcia Department of Psychology Simon Fraser University Adolescence is viewed in this article both as a chronological period between puberty and early adulthood and as any time in the life cycle when an individual explores im- portant life-alternatives with the aim of making commitments. Hence, both a 15-year-old and a 30-year-old may find themselves “adolescing.” Erikson viewed the chronological era of late adolescence as crucial for the individual’s construction of an initial identity: A sense of who one is, based on who one has been, and who one imag- ines oneself being in the future. I describe individuals as being in 1 of 4 identity “sta- tuses” according to where they are in the process of identity formation: identity achievement, moratorium, foreclosure, or identity diffusion. Identities are not con- structed in a vacuum; they are both facilitated and constrained by social and interper- sonal contexts. Furthermore, identity formation is just 1 of 8 psychosocial developmental tasks, all of which involve intergenerational mutuality. That is, adults rely on children to confirm them in their growing sense of generativity, and children rely on adults to aid them in their developmental tasks of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, and identity. The developmental crises of both parental generativity and ad- olescent/young adult identity are illustrated by reference to one of Assisi’s best known families: Pietro, Pica, and Francesco (later to become St. Francis) Bernardone. Most of us see ourselves in the role of “growers” and our adolescents as those for whose growth we take some responsibility. In Erikson’s terms we are in a position of generativity , of caring for, of helping to “grow,” younger members of our soci- ety. That is not always such an easy task. Sometimes persons do not want to be grown; they feel that they have whatever it takes to grow themselves. Adolescents have an inherent growth potential, and it is our task to provide the conditions nec- essary to enable that potential to flourish. Even gardeners know that growing things requires care: the enrichment of the soil, the drastic intervention of pruning, and, sometimes, simply observation and benign neglect. Those of us who are psy- Requests for reprints should be sent to James E. Marcia, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser Uni- versity, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, V5A 1S6. E-mail: marcia@sfu.ca IDENTITY: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THEORY AND RESEARCH, 2(3), 199–209 Copyright © 2002 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
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chotherapists and who teach psychotherapy understand that a difficult lesson for beginning therapists is to not get in the way of patients who are progressing well on their own. And of all the patients that we see, adolescents are the ones most in mo- tion, sometimes swiftly forward and sometimes just as swiftly backward, although this retreat is often in the service of future advances. Hence, assuming the respon-
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2012 for the course PYSC 521 taught by Professor Dr.zarrett during the Spring '11 term at South Carolina.

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Marcia new - IDENTITY: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THEORY...

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