The Threatened Identity: An Empirical Study
This study explores the phenomenon of threatened identity that occurs because of significant, often abrupt changes in human life. As a result of a difficult experience, decision, change of cultural environment, loss of someone or something very important, an individual may feel he/she is someone different than before. Thus, establishing the continuity of one's personal identity may be a problem. In a report on this type of situation Glynis Breakwell (1986) proposes the term "threatened identity." She places it in the context of her structural model of identity. The present study is aimed at investigating possible images of threatened identity and characterizing them from the point of view of narrative sequences, the affective level and the ultimate - positive or negative - consequences of the individual's functioning. With regard to these aspects, five types of threatened identity have been distinguished from the empirical evidence: (1) the constructive re-evaluation, (2) the key experience, (3) the stable narrative sequence, (4) the seeking of power and autonomy and (5) the loss of part of oneself.