PSYCHOLOGY: Moratorium Identity and definition of aduldhood

in psychology •  9 months ago
When we talk about identity, there is a lot of things that we can take into consideration. Today I want to focus on one phenomenon that I had a chance to notice a few months ago. I want to talk about a very popular strategy for dealing with life.

Moratorium Identity. Picture: Pixabay


Of all the concepts that the creators set for themselves continuation of Erik H. Erikson's (1950,) work, the one is the most popular, was a theory of identity status developed by James Marcia (1966). The basic mechanism of formation of a particular identity status is assumed by Marcia sequential follow-up of two processes. The first of them is an exploration of the social and physical environment, or "trial" taking various social roles, experimenting with available lifestyle, examining yours and other's borders. The second is decision making, choosing and accepting related obligations in the field determined in the process of exploration of areas and being involved in their implementation. Starting from the assumption about the important role of exploration and commitment in the process to achieve the status of identity, Marcia recognized that the crisis of adolescence can end by adopting one of the four statuses:- identity achieved, taken over, dispersed or moratorium.

Moratorium Identity

One can speak about a moratorium identity when a person (after the age of 23) explores roles and attitudes without undertaking to choose one of them. The attitude of such a person is characterized by rebelliousness, introspective attitude.
The moratorium prompts the young man's critical thinking, openness to what is new and to seek. Such a person experiences an identity crisis, and thus he asks himself important questions: "who am I?", "What do I want to get involved in?". A young person at this stage of development often changes decisions, sometimes engages in extremely different ideologies. Although such behaviour may raise concerns and be difficult to understand, this kind of behaviour is necessary for the adolescent.
Dimensions of Identity, Author: Smashedturtle

The key to this phase of identity development is its completion. There are cases where it does not come to an end. People who remain in this identity for a long time often do not undertake developmental tasks characteristic of their peer group. The non-normative nature of their development may take various forms and may have various consequences. The most frequently recognized forms of non-maturity are, among others: not taking up a job, unwillingness to enter into mature romantic relationships, strong involvement in some ideology, marking their individuality in relation to the peer group.

Havinghurst's Theory

The process of individual development of a person in life can be recognized with the so-called pragmatic (ie, the achievements that society expects from an individual in a given period of life) and teleological perspective ( goals that a person realizes from the moment of birth up to death). One of the most popular concepts from this trend is the Robert Havighurst's concept of tasks. According to its basic assumptions, the unit in the process development goes from one phase to the next, solving in each subsequent stage problems which are typical for a given period. Developmental tasks are a goals to achieve in a specific period of human life. Successful implementation of a given tasks lead to satisfaction and success in fulfilling goals from later stages of life. Failure in this area is often associated with a lack of acceptance from the site social environment, which in turn can be a source of deep dissatisfaction with life and serious difficulties in the process of further tasks.

For the period of early adulthood (18 - 35 years) Havinghurst set the following tasks:
• Choosing a spouse
• Learning to live with your spouse.
• Starting a family.
• Raising children.
• Housekeeping.
• Starting work.
• Accepting civic responsibility.
• Finding a related social group.

Of course, the developmental tasks set out by Havighurst are not the only ones and the last ones that people between 18 and 35 have to do. Trying to adapt the tasks assigned by him, we can see the development direction appropriate for people in a given age range.

Adjustment disorder; Source:

Clinical and social approach

The moratorium identity is normative during the development of identity. Not moving from the moratorium identity to the identity achieved is considered in terms of the problem.
Undertaking developmental tasks and confronting the challenges that arise during life allows people to check themselves in different roles and situations. The transition to the identity achieved is directly related to the decision to select specific roles and to commit to them. By postponing the occupational or social role, the individual remains in a previous development phase. The image of today's society indicates that the decision to take specific life roles is shifting in time. This may be influenced by, for example, the so-called gap years with which the completion of studies is associated later. The definition of adult social roles also changes. Having a spouse is not necessary to be recognized as an adult in society. Having a spouse does not mean that people are perceived in society as adults. The determinants of adulthood are constantly changing.

It is worth remembering that moratorium identity is not a classified disorder. Indirectly, the it may influence the occurrence of adaptive disorders (F43.2) or cause, for example, problems with entering proper interpersonal relations.

Marcia, J. E. (1966). Development and validation of ego-identity status.Journal of personality and social psychology,
Marcia, J. E. (1980). Identity in adolescence. Handbook of adolescent psychology,
Erik H. Erikson: Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalisys and History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company,
Leonid Gavrilov, Natalia Gavrilova, Biology of Life Span: A Quantitative Approach, 1991,

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