IDENTITY VERSUS IDENTITY CRISIS INTRODUCTION Our group decided to have a case study on a subject who involved in a group called Skinhead. This is a true story of a person that is closely related with one of our group members. He was a 16 years old male student who studied in a vocational school. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Skinhead is a young person, usually a man, with a shaved head and often wearing braces and heavy boots, especially Doc Martens. It first appeared in Britain in the 1960s and was known for their violent behaviour and their support for the right-wing political group.
In Malaysian context, Skinhead first appeared in the early year of 1990s, firstly appeared as Punk, which got community’s disagreement as their appearances are too loud- boots, Mohawk, leather jacket, skinny jeans and spike hair. So they change to a new culture called Skinhead; which they say that it is cleaner and not too loud. They have their own genre of songs. Subject started to involve himself with Skinhead when he was 16 years old. He was so enthralled with the idea of being in a group and executing new things he never knew.
He claims that he and his friends felt like they were strong and powerful as they shared things together. They did not have the slightest thought about any other things other than merely enjoying themselves. It was self-satisfying and what was more important to them is that, they felt that they were fierce and everyone was afraid of them. Subject states that he was “proud to wear Dr. Martin shoes, jeans, jacket and simple t-shirts. ” The members of the group could be identified based on their similar hairstyle – they must keep their hair not longer than one inch.
Subject admits that he was feeling obligated to follow the ‘trend’ in order to avoid negative assumptions by his peers. He in fact did not have any idea what Skinhead was all about at that time. However, he knew that it was a culture from the Western countries. This factor encouraged him more that he ended up being one of the followers. He was feeling secured knowing that he belonged to the group and he got his friends on his back. Subject however denies being brutal as the other group of followers. The grand weekly meeting was held every Friday.
Subject also adds that usually the other members of any group alike of Skinhead would talk about loyalty to the group as well as proving bravery and strength. Nevertheless, the most important above all things for them is “autonomous social relationship”. He states that the members were free to mingle with each other regardless of their genders. However, subject makes it clear that he did not take alcohol or any kind of drugs. As a teenager, subject admits that he was not aware that what he did could actually give effect to the other people around him.
What he wanted was, “to give a go for anything that I feel curious about. ” He does not blame anyone because whatever he did had nothing to do with his parents, school and society in general, he says. He got everything he needed as a teenager and the people around him cared about him. He admits that the greatest influence came from his peers. APPLICATION OF THEORY: According to Erik Erikson, the fifth stage of his eight stages of human development – the identity versus identity confusion (also known as role confusion), best reflects the adolescent’s life.
During adolescence, life is getting more complicated as we are going through a phase of changing from a child to being an adult. At this rate, adolescents begin to have the feeling of acquiring identity. This feeling includes their certainty about their own characteristics (who they are), their concern about social identity (what they are all about or to which group whom they belong) and their certainty about their own values and ideals (where they are going in life).
In our case, when subject engaged himself with the group, he actually made a commitment without attempting any other identity exploration. Adolescents face many new roles and adult statuses such as occupational role, beliefs and values as well as sexuality. However, they need to be allowed to explore different paths in order to obtain a healthy identity. Without enough exploration, adolescents are likely to fail from creating a positive future path because the experience they have obtained is not helping at all.
As a result, they will remain confused about their identity and thus maladaptations and malignancies (negative outcomes) arise. The involvement of subject with Skinhead could be classified as one of the negative outcomes that take place as a result of inadequate identity exploration by subject. In the process of creating a philosophy of life, we often get the tendency to be idealistic rather than being realistic. We often go to what we think as ideal, conflict-free, and choose to reject reality. This always happens to adolescents.
The problem is that they are lacking in experience but always find it easy to substitute ideals with experience. However, strong devotion to friends and causes is always easy to get developed and that is why our most significant relationships are often with peer groups. Subject found that his peers’ expectation on him was very important. His sense of belonging to the group grew higher since the group members acknowledged his presence. When subject said they were fierce and that everyone was afraid of them, it could be that the society was giving in to them.
Society allows a certain degree of freedom to the adolescence in their search for identity. The society does not only provide them with formal institutions such as schools, colleges and universities, but the adolescents are also given tolerance which Erikson calls the psychosocial moratorium. CONCLUSION According to Erikson’s fifth psychological stage, adolescent need to be allowed to explore different path to attain a healthy identity. If adolescent do not adequately explore different roles and did not carve out a positive future path, they can remain confuse about their identity.
In my understanding, Erikson encourages the adolescent on trying new things and learns from them. Experience sure is the best teacher out of all. It is like trial and error situation. An adolescent might be involved with something bad like Skinhead, Black metal or drug but in the end, what important is they had their lesson. Thus, they will avoid them from doing the decision and it was a process in finding their own identity. In this situation, Sam involved in Skinhead influence because of his curiosity and his friends influence.
At that time, Sam might not think that what he did was wrong but as time passes and he gets more mature, he realizes the fact that his action was wrong. Maturely, he does not put the blame on others but himself. Thus, adolescent need to think carefully before taking any action because it can affect his future. They should involve in activities that are healthy for them. Erikson surely said adolescent need to be allowed to explore different path to attain a healthy identity, but adolescent must choose the right path in order to gain it. It will be such a great loss if your young time was wasted doing unproductive activity.
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