Revisiting Erikson’s Neglected Concepts of Ego-Identity and Self-Identity: Hidden Persuaders in the Twilight Zones of Awareness
Philosophical origins of the identity concept – including James’ concepts of I, ME, and personal identity – are used to frame a detailed examination of Erikson’s concepts of ego-identity and self-identity. Ego-identity was defined in terms of the continuity and quality of experiences related to social reality, and self-identity was defined in terms of the continuity and quality of experiences related to past and present self-images. The minimal correspondence between Erikson’s original work and contemporary identity theory was noted and used to motivate an analysis of Erikson’s identity theory using contemporary dual-process and multilevel systems theories. Although ego-identity and self-identity can be described as dual systems, their relations to ego and I (as well as constructs developed in other identity theories) may be more effectively described by reference to multiple interacting subsystems.