Critical Analysis: Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators

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Middlebury College
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The Article discusses theories that try to understand identity development in adolescent, Erickson's theory adapts the Freudian vein of psychosexual development, which incorporates person's biological drives and the societal expectations, although he only stresses on the social side of the theory. He articulated a theory of (mis)fit between the developing persons and the social context within which they live in, with an eight stages model, he reveals specific crisis, which must be solved to increase the likelihood of healthy development in subsequent steps.

On the other hand, Marcia illustrated how adolescents are continually exploring themselves by creating and deconstructing identities with the hope of achieving an identity that is internally consistent and externally valued. In his model, he identified four statuses. A foreclosed identity where the individual is committed to a specific identity, a diffuse identity where he acquires a status of little exploration of a particular identity, an identity moratorium where the adolescent experiences a crisis identity and finally, achieved identity status when the identity crisis is solved.

The article further creates a disclaimer viewing adolescent growth from a constructivist approach claiming they neither embrace nor inconsistent with Erickson's perspective, thus conquers to the idea that youths do not enter particular statues alone, or even negotiate them independently. This is reflected in the story narrated in the article of a student who gained his identity from various individuals who influenced him; thus, development is promoted interactively by all the opportunity and relational contexts within which we exist.

In my opinion, Adolescents get most influence from the environment around them as they search for their identity; this can lead to them adopting the societal perspective of them or become deviant, the adolescent is the stage where a character is created and establishes what the person turns out to be in future. Therefore, I conquer with this Marcia model to an extent, however, some identity that some adolescents commit their loyalty to are as a result of trying to build loyalty to a particular relationship, such as friends or family but not completely, what they are as a person. A person's identity is not permanent, even those who hold dear to their identity somehow are insecure of what they are, and they are constantly seeking approval from others, even those who are so firm, they always have an inner self-pushing them to change and fit from the societal perspective and vice versa...

The Interesting and thought-provoking discussion question that develops from the theories is; are we as humans always searching for our identity in a society that has an already created identity for us or it is the societal norms and values that keep changing? Is there a real self?


The reading has a common theme of adolescent identity development; they all shed light on different theories established to try to understand the identity development stage. They all have one thing in common; they agree that adolescents undergo a crisis while trying to identify a true self. Erikson adapts only a section of the Freudian vein of psychosexual development and disputes the individual's innate biological drives while Marcia demonstrates that for an individual to achieve identity, they must incorporate the natural drive "real self."



Nakkula, Michael J, and Eric Toshalis. "Identity in Context." Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators (2006): 17-39.



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