Forming of Identity : The Most Important Task of an Adolescent

Most of the psychiatrists all over the world accept that one of the toughest issues a person faces in his life cycle is ‘identity formation during adolescence stage’. By the by, what is identify formation? It is nothing but the development of distinct or unique sense of self as an individual and also as a member of society. In fact the question ‘Who am I’ attains its importance during the adolescent age. Dr. Manish Bajpayee, the leading psychiatrist in Pune explains why forming of identity is the most important task of an adolescent.

The task of identity formation is not a clear cut path and it rapidly fluctuates during the period of adolescence. Identity formation is strongly influenced by both internal and external factors and are related to cultural, sexual and gender identity.

Cultural identity:

In a country like India, where hundreds of languages are spoken and several customs and cultures are followed among highly diversified groups of people, an adolescent boy or girl is bound to behave differently at home and away from home. For example, a Bengali teenage boy living in Mumbai with his parents would love to celebrate the durga pooja with his family members and at the same time would love to celebrate Ganpati festival with his friends. Here, the role of parents in teaching their children about the various cultures make it easy for the latter to easily assimilate and nurture the formation of  identity in multi culture society.

Gender identity:

This is linked with the concept that how an adolescent identifies with masculinity and femininity. Roles and behaviours based on social and cultural conditions have a strong influence in the gender identity. It is quite common to assume that a boy and a girl would follow masculine and feminine qualities respectively. The fact is – it need not be. The teenage child may experience the traits that do not match with their physical sex. This conflict is usually suppressed during the adolescence to avoid social and cultural rejections. If this is not addressed properly, the adolescent may undergo depression and experience stress. The best way to tackle this problem is by providing safe and supportive guidance.

Sexual identity:

During adolescence a teenage boy or girl undergoes puberty and starts experiencing attraction towards sex that includes curiosity on sexual behaviour and flirting. With the help of this sexual identity, the child also starts developing emotional identity. Sometimes, in the case of lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgender, the establishment of sexual identity do not conform to the gender. This may lead to rejection of peers and family and cause undue stress and emotional drain. Moreover, in many cases, this results in drug abuse and suicidal thoughts. Hence, parental support and accommodating environment are very essential to attain sexual identify and finally to yield positive results and self-esteem.

In addition to the above, the identities of adolescent children are influenced by peers in schools, parents in home. Education makes the identity formation process quicker and thereby helps the teenager to realise the true sense of personality. Dr. Manish Bajpayee, renowned for child psychiatry in Pune, provides clear guidance to parents and adolescent children for creating better personalities out of them.

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