chapter  5
20 Pages

The Relational Roots of Identity

Human development is an ongoing dialectic between connection and separation, between relatedness and solitude. Any portrayal of the hu­ man condition and of identity that overlooks either pole shows us only half the picture. Recently, a view of identity development has been ar­ ticulated that emphasizes its relational aspects, but at the same time criticizing prior views as emphasizing unduly its separational aspects. For

example, in 1987, Carol Gilligan wrote: “The tendency for psychologists to characterize adolescence as the time of second individuation (Bios, 1962) and to celebrate an identity that is self-wrought (Erikson, 1959) encourages a way of speaking in which the interdependence of human life and the reliance of people on one another becomes largely un­ represented or tacit’’ (p. 68). Later, in the same article, she takes Erik­ son’s study of Luther as an example of a worldview, presumably shared by Erikson, that sees: “ the individual embarked on a solitary journey toward personal salvation, a worldview that is centered on the values of autonomy and independence’’ (p. 71). From a similar perspective, Ruthellen Josselson (1988) stated that “ agreement obtains that . . . sepa­ ration of the self out of the more or less enmeshed child-parent web is what adolescence is all about. Here again, under the surface, is the familiar developmental assumption. Development proceeds from dependence to autonomy. To grow is to separate’’ (p. 94). In 1990, she declared that early identity theory (circa 1972), because it was based on interviews with men, focused unduly on issues of separateness and individuality: “ our identity theory tended to expand in directions of doing, of agency, of self-assertion and self-awareness, of mastery, values and abstract com­ mitments. The integration of psycho and social that is self and other be­ came m uted’’ (p. 3).