Identity And Repudiation

The psychoanalyst, Erik Erikson had originally trained as an artist and you can see it in his beautiful writing.  He talked about many concepts, such as Identity and the Stages of Ego development, that have stood the test of time. I’ve always liked his work on identity. This post is about one aspect of identity formation – that of repudiation.chgo botanic garden 9-10 027

Erikson maintained, and I firmly agree (not that he needs my approval), that, as we try new activities and behaviors, we integrate new elements in with those already in existence – “Wow, this is also me!!!” For example, if you try salsa dancing and you love it, that activity is added to your life and your identity expands a little bit.  Our identities can grow throughout our  lives. This may be some protection against loss as we age.
Identity also becomes consolidated by repudiation – “Hmmm, this is certainly not me !”.  For example, you try mountain climbing and it doesn’t agree with you; you have learned more about yourself.
Identity is not only shaped by who we are (female, left-handed, introspective) but also by who we are NOT (graceful, musical, tall). It reminds me of making a sculpture – when we work with clay, we add on; when we work with stone, we take away – in both instances, we are trying to create a form.
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