‘Evaluate the claim that conflict is a catalyst for identity change.’
A person’s identity changes multiple times over their lives.   These changes happen at key points throughout a person’s life.   Erik Erikson, a psychologist interested in how identity changes transpire throughout peoples’ lives, observed that peoples’ identity is “influenced by past experiences as well as the new tasks we are confronted with” (Hollway 2009, p. 252).   Erikson distinctly noted eight points in a person’s life, at which “identity was inevitably transformed” (Hollway 2009, p. 252).   These eight stages are:
  1. Infant (Hope) – Basic Trust vs. Mistrust
  2. Toddler (Will) – Autonomy vs. Shame
  3. Preschooler (Purpose) – Initiative vs. Guilt
  4. School-Age Child (Competence) – Industry vs. Inferiority
  5. Adolescent (Fidelity) – Identity vs. Identity Diffusion
  6. Young Adult (Love) – Intimacy vs. Isolation
  7. Middle-aged Adult (Care) – Generativity vs. Self-absorption
  8. Older Adult (Wisdom) – Integrity vs. Despair.   (
The movement through these eight stages is not smooth.   For instance the passing from youth to adulthood can cause certain “identity crises” or “conflicts” within a person.   Internal conflicts are inevitable, as we move through our lives our values, perspective and priorities change. Each of these changes stimulates shifts in identity (Hollway 2009, p. 252).   Conflicts do not need to be massive to affect change.   Erikson refers to how conflicts reflect tensions people face with life events and states that it is these conflicts, which propel a person’s identity change (Hollway 2009, p. 252). Sometimes we have no choice but to accept the changes whether they are for better or worse, deal with them and move on.

Identity change is not just a process that spans a person’s life; it can also change from moment to moment.   There are different aspects in a person’s life that...

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