A person’s identity is composed of traits or characteristics that can be sensed by parent s right from birth; however, not all the traits that form one’s identity are obvious or even present at birth mainly because they are formed as the child matures and becomes an adult through that person’s life experiences. So a person’s identity is a result of both his or her DNA, and his or her response to events/experiences which occur over the course of their developmental years and in some cases even into adulthood. This definition was not difficult for me to form, since I based it on my own experiences which seemed to agree with both Erikson's stages and Marcia's identity statuses.
I read Erik Erikson’s “epigenetic principal” and was surprised by how he was sensitive to noticing those character traits young children have early in life or even at birth. He seems to focus on identity as being present already at birth. Erikson has added that as a baby grows there are several stages he/she will typically go through, and they were interesting to me. I particularly agree with all the stages, and feel they make sense with what I have observed and know from my experience.
For example, when I was a child (2 years old) I had a babysitter who would spank me so I wouldn’t cry and would go to sleep. I grew up with some insecurities and until I was 14 I was very afraid of the dark, couldn’t sleep away from my mother, and had a hard time sleeping. Even today I’m a light sleeper. Some of this fear I was able to overcome during Erikson's "stage 3". Yet, some fear associated with sleep, I still carry with me. These stages of life are what form a person's identity. If a baby, who is feeble and frail, is not able to receive his/her need for love and essentials for life during these important stages, then the result would be difficulties later in life.
I found that I also agreed with Marcia, who expanded on Erikson’s initial theory by bringing “identity statuses” as standards for growth and maturity. He developed four parts to adolescent development and identity formation. Again, I could relate to these from my own life experience.
Marcia's first "part", is “Identity Diffusion”, which is when a person lives a more carefree lifestyle so that they just live in the “now” and don’t worry about the future. They don’t have any commitment to anything, which I believe interferes a lot in the teenager’s future. If a person in this stage doesn't pass through it or becomes stuck here , it means that it is likely he or she is also stuck in the first or second stage of Erikson’s theory. A teen may not have received or developed the trust needed and so became an insecure child. In the same way they may not have received the guidance as a child that they needed to find their place in the world, so have become indecisive and lost.
The second “Identity Status is “Identity Foreclosure”, which usually describes an adolescent who follows a certain career path because a parent or someone else has told them to do so. They have made a weak commitment without