An identity crisis is a period of difficult transition, such as during adolescence or midlife, when the visible you severely conflicts with the real you – causing pain, distress and a desire for change. “Who am I?” “What do I believe in?” “What values should I live by?” “What do I want to do with my life?” “Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.” (Proverbs 15:21)
An identity crisis is a period of severe disillusionment when your identity is based on a role or relationship that has been changed or removed.
- The loss of a job – Identity was in your career (a role).
- The loss of a spouse due to death or divorce – Identity was in your marriage partner (a relationship).
- The “empty nest” – Identity was in being a parent (a role).
- A move from a secure environment – Identity was in your friends and family (a relationship).
- The onset of a disability – Identity was in your ability to perform (a role).
- The loss of an intimate friendship – Identity was in a cherished companion (a relationship).
- A financial loss – Identity was in your social status (a role).
“Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?” (Job 6:13)
This identity crisis can be a severe form of identity confusion that results from childhood trauma or sexual abuse.
- Bizarre dressing or cross-dressing (taking on a different identity, so as to feel significant)
- Victim mentality (feeling powerless in relationships)
- Dissociative disorders: Amnesia (temporary memory loss); Fugue (starting life over with a new identity); Multiple Personality Disorder (adopting two or more personalities as a way of coping with life).