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Standards For Identity

September 21, 2010

For the past several years now, I have been obsessed with the identity, and driven mad by the simple yet intriguing and utterly impossible to definitively answer existentialists’ question “Who Am I?”

But while I cannot know who I am, I at the very least know the foundational standards for the identity, which so very conveniently correspond to the Freudian Id, Ego, and SuperEgo. For your convenience, I have laid it out as such:

But first, I will ask a question, to put this all into context:

“For what purpose should a man live for, that his life might be justified?

…Should he live for a worthy cause, that his ends might be justified?

…Should he work towards a worthy end, that his means might be justified?

Or should he live for life itself, that his experiences might render both ends and means irrelevant?”

1. Motivated by the Id (motivation is self-inherent); purpose for living is to experience life to the fullest.

One who’s life serves the Id is one who’s experience render both ends and means irrelevant.

2. Motivated by the Ego (motivation is justified by a worthy cause); purpose for living is to fulfill a worthy cause.

One who’s life serves the Ego is one who seeks to live for a worthy cause, that his end might be justified. Examples of worthy causes include God, humanism, knowledge, love, spirituality, self-understanding, and self-actualization.

3. Motivated by the SuperEgo (motivation is justified by a worthy end); purpose for living is to fulfill or contribute to a worthy end.

One who’s life serves the SuperEgo is one who seeks to live a life where the product justifies the measures taken. Examples of  targets for a worthy “end” include Society, government, friendship, the law, religion, and other social institutions.


It’s a bit more complicated than this, obviously, but these are the three primary standards for identity.

The above analysis might be a bit confusing though, so let me put it in a way you might better understand:

1. Freedom: Your experiences decide who you are; as a result, your character is extremely dynamic and requires no justification.

2. Individuality: Your identity is decided by who you think you are. You don’t care too much for what people think, and recognize that they don’t know who you are, nor can they ever. You also recognize that you will never truly know or understand other people. You let your work speak for itself; essentially, you are what you believe in.

3. Borg: Your identity is decided by everyone else; thus, you are who you project yourself to be, but ultimately by how other people interpret your projections. Because your identity can only be decided by other people, you try to find out how people perceive certain behaviors, words, and thought patterns. You then decide to project that which is more appropriate for your role in that society, be it for better or worse.

Most people have a little bit of all three of these identities merged into one singular identity, although the mixture can and will change depending on their environment. Using these different standards for identity, we can develop a unique but unstable character that we call “human”.

However, those with more obsessive personalities who are overly concerned with their identity (people like myself!) cannot easily mix and match these different standards, and often either live an indecisive and existentialistic lifestyle, or (even worse!) develop multiple personalities (or “alter-egos”) as a coping mechanism.

While I still have learned very little useful information about who I am, at least I better understand the structure of who I am, even if I still have not even scratched the surface of the contents therein ;-(

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