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Do We Have A Single Identity?

Do We Have A Single Identity?

A Story by Angela Abate

Recently the question of personal identity has been everywhere for me. The question of what makes a person who they are and how that is changed or built upon. Almost everywhere we look, we see something that can alter us. The extent to which it alters us is a choice we are all granted with and must deal with internally before any change can be made to the “self”. The real question in this, I suppose, is do we a single identity? Does each change produce a more articulated “self” or add another identity to the pile we may have already inside us?

It is easy to notice that a person's etiquette changes with each situation. From work, to school, to your home, or out with your friends, changes are made in your demeanor. The clothes, the vocabulary, the way one speaks to those around them, and even the body language all change. Some situations call for more drastic changes than others, but are these changes the call to another identity?

Upon studying this question I stumbled upon the work of Sigmund Freud. His theory on the “self” is that within each person there are three parts. The id, which is a person's immediate reaction or want, the superego, which is the morals and ethics one learns over time, and the ego, which balances the two to produce what one actually does in any situation. So at all times, these three parts are in conflict with each other, trying to gain control. But once again, I am provoked to wonder, are these separate identities? Are we just an allusion to “wholeness” or are we simply one? Does the confines of one body mean that everything inside is “one” as well?

Webster's definition of “identity” is “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual”. With this definition it is easy to rush to the conclusion that we have a single identity. The word “the” seems to be the distinguishing word. It puts forth the idea that we have one distinguishing character, but that is no concluding point for me. One's distinguishing character trait or personality changes, as I brought up in paragraph one, with each situation. By the definition's rule, one could say that we do have multiple identities.

The world around us changes who we are. The situations, the events, the people, and the places all affect us more than we like to admit. One thing I feel I can take comfort in after studying these questions, is that one is never fully lost. In order to lose who you are, you would have to lose yourself far more times than one. For we have multiple identities. Although some would say we put on masks, I feel that is a negative point of view on a positive situation. Change, no matter how uncomfortable, is not always a bad thing. Multiple identities, no matter how many there are, are not always a bad thing.

© 2013 Angela Abate

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For me the idea of a separate identity and individuality is a historical construct that is actually quite recent, maybe 500 years at best, in reality, we are so influenced by our upbringing, culture, environment and social life it's hard to fathom to me how a capitalistic individualism even works, actually it's entirely possible it doesn't work well at all...

Posted 8 Years Ago

Angela Abate

8 Years Ago

I've researched this topic from the angles of Philosophy, Psychology, Cultural Studies, and History... read more
Michael Kevin Spencer

8 Years Ago

Well it's a patriarchal invention for the control of nature and other people, a construct that perpe.. read more

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1 Review
Added on January 18, 2013
Last Updated on January 18, 2013


Angela Abate
Angela Abate

Chicago, IL

Writing is my passion and my future. I am a student in Chicago, IL, majoring in Creative Non-Fiction Writing and minoring in Cultural Studies. I am known to be full of surprises. more..