Psychology of Utopias Agnes Balint The concept of Utopia

Utopias and identity crisis

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Utopias and identity crisis

Identity crisis, as Erikson argues, is one of the life tasks and a necessary part of adolescents’ psychosocial development. By resolving it, only the foundations of identity become solid – there is good chance for either further construction or destruction, rearrangement or, of course, collapse. Constructing identity is a life-long progress, and that is why adulthood is not free from identity crises either. There are several factors that threaten the different aspects of adults’ identities. According to Breakwell,10 the three aspects of identity are continuity, distinctiveness and self-esteem. Any of these can be threatened by internal or external factors. In this sense marriage, divorce, loss (job, home, etc.), mourning, illness and psychosis are all possible threats. When the person detects a threat he can mobilize intra-psychic or/and interpersonal coping strategies in order to save his integrity.11 Breakwell reviews these strategies and shows how they work. Her plausible system enables us to carry on with thinking and suggest that daydreams, or the special form of daydreaming, i.e. generating utopias can be considered an intra-psychic coping strategy, even if Breakwell does not mention these in her own system.

Thus utopias are, in a Breakwellian sense, attempts to save identity in a crisis situation. Is it possible to identify the threat from the features of utopias? I will make an attempt for it.

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