13 Apr 2022


Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

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Erik Erikson though much of his work was influenced by Sigmund Freud he does not speak about the psychosexual stages but instead discusses the eight stages of psychosocial development. He identifies that these are the series of stages that a healthy individual should go pass from infancy to late adulthood. Each stage is like a step that builds upon the successes achieved in the previous ones. However, it is not mandatory that one masters a particular stage in order to move on to the next one. The individual is seen negotiating between biological and socio-cultural forces hence a crisis is presented by a conflict between the two forces. Success is seen as one reconciling the conflicting forces and emerges with the first attribute mentioned into the later stages. For instance, when a young teen enters into the adolescence stage (identity vs. role confusion) with more knowledge of self than confusion he or she emerges with the virtue of fidelity. This is where an individual masters their personal skills and who they would like to be in future. In numerous cases, this stage may extend to the early adulthood stage where individuals continue to realize more and more about themselves.

Life Experiences

As opposed to Freud who focused on the id as the major motivator towards the behavior portrayed in an individual at each psychosexual stage, Erikson emphasized on the role of the ego. Herein, he would identify the culture and society that create the conflicts within the ego in a bid to realize a particular behavior that should be observed. Much of the conflicts that are encountered in the adolescent stage as well as the others are usually social in nature. Therefore, hope, will, purpose and competence are all necessary virtues for the individual to develop the fidelity. The young adolescent in question will require all these five stages into developing further into adulthood where there are three more stages (Nair, James, & Santhosh, 2015). This is contrary to Freud’s theory that identifies only five stages in the development of an individual. In this case, Erikson believes that there is plenty of improvement into the adulthood stages but great emphasis is on the adolescent stage that creates the identity of the individual.

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This is the fifth of Erikson’s psychosocial stages where the adolescent is concerned about who they are and how they the people around them view them. It is seen as a critical stage in the life of the individual particularly because of the numerous changes that are taking place in the body of the individual. It is seen as an important stage as the individual matures and becomes more aware of the personal changes and that of the people around them (Nair, James, & Santhosh, 2015). Other than this, the adolescence stage is seen as a point where the individual must transition from being a child into an adult. With that, the individual begins to think about their future in terms of careers, relationships, living condition and even family. The young mind in this case has a quest to fit in to the society and feel that they belong. In order to fit in, the adolescent will have to learn the various roles and appropriate skills that he should convey as an adult in the given society.

The practice of religion and spirituality has been one of the most important factors that have been identified as important in the development of an individual’s identity (King, 2003). Individuals will be noted during the stage of adolescence questioning their beliefs in a supernatural being other than their parents or the political leaders. In this case, the individual will be noted to observe whether indeed there is a god and which of the various religions have beliefs that they can associate with. Being raised in a family where the parents do not follow a particular religion to the letter will be more confusing to the children as they may conform to the beliefs that their peers are more inclined to rather than what they actually believe in. The family forms a basis of comparison as well as the community around them as they seek to identify the behavior of these individuals in accordance to the beliefs that are dictated by this religion. This will enable the adolescent to make a more informed choice rather than follow blindly into one.

One of the main factors of religion and spirituality in the life of an adolescent is the description of behavior on what is right and wrong. The individual will be able to identify their moral standing in the society and will further identify the expected behavior as an adult. The individual in question will usually present a case of seeking to identify their personal image as a member of the society (King, 2003). Hereby, the individual will achieve success through a reintegrated sense of self by identifying what they want to be or do in the future. For instance, if an individual brought up in a Christian family experiences death of a close relative because of religious wars he or she may experience conflict between social expectation of accepting others despite differing ideologies and the need to exert revenge on people who have similar believes to that of their relative’s killers. The virtue of fidelity is an important virtue that enables an individual to be part of a peaceful society.

The adolescent may encounter cases of body image issues. As aforementioned, the adolescent will experience various biological changes that will lead to the formation of an identity in the society. These changes of the body may compel an individual to feel inferior to the peers or more confident. This is majorly due to their various experiences with the other members of the society. A girl child at this stage who has usually been told that she is beautiful will demonstrate more confidence and more likely than not she will seek to use her beauty in ways that will propel her to various goals and desires for instance becoming a runway model. On the other hand, one who has usually been condemned that they are not the ideal figure of beauty will feel inferior and confused about the purpose of their life. It is most likely that the individual will seek to undertake numerous changes in order to achieve this “beauty” so as to fit into the society. Pressuring an individual into a particular identity will usually lead to rebellion as in the case of a parent compelling their child not to date (Nair, James, & Santhosh, 2015). He or she will seek to engage in multiple relationships that will lead to the formation of a negative identity.

I believe that the adolescent stage had a major impact in my life where my parents played a major role. They were able to allow me to explore this “unknown” world on my own while providing significant and important input to guide me into making the right choices. I used to believe in violence as a means of establishing my status as a confident and bold individual. This would propel me to engage in fights and verbal outbursts (Nair, James, & Santhosh, 2015). However, my parents were able to play the part of role models as they would calmly engage in discussion whenever they were at loggerheads. They showed me that confidence is not in physically proving others wrong but in believing in the self first before letting others see it in me. Indeed, the identity vs. role confusion stage is true as it enables an adolescent developing a personality that is acceptable both personally and to the society. 


King, P. E. (2003). “Religion and identity: The role of ideological, social, and spiritual contexts.” Applied Developmental Science , 7(3): 197-204.

Nair, K. R., James, J. K., & Santhosh, K. R. (2015). “Identity crisis among early adolescents in relations to abusive experiences in the childhood, social support and parental support.” Journal of Psychosocial Research , 10(1): 167-173.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion.


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