The Hanger Identity
by Peter Fritz Walter
Lacking identity is a big problem nowadays, but in the regular case it’s never a total lack of identity, for the latter constellation is typically the condition of psychotics, and thus here we would be talking about mental illness.
But generally, among young people today, there is a greater lack of identity as this was the case in the past, and still is the case within natural tribal cultures. Why is this so? I will answer the question bit by bit in the following text, for it’s a complex matter.
My core message is that we need autonomy for building an original and manifest identity, that goes beyond a mere sexual identity or self-identity. When I say identity I speak of an identity that is built on our most personal and unique talents and capacities, and on our life’s mission.
Building autonomy also implies to get away with false identities and to realize soul power. What do I mean?
I have encountered quite a few young men and women who seem to suffer from a problem today identified as the boomer personality. While generally being rather intelligent and sensitive persons, these people tend to have a quite low level of personal identity. They try to compensate for this lack by adopting a certain lifestyle, a certain group philosophy, or a choice of personal characteristics they have seen deployed by others whom they believe are successful.
The root of the problem is that these persons suffer from a vacuum inside, and this vacuum is a lack of self-knowledge. Instead of trying to find out who they really are, and thus journeying form outside to inside, they rather do the contrary, and go to search for truth at the periphery. Instead of clearing their soul values, they adopt certain social values they find fashionable. Instead of accepting themselves, they crave for gaining acceptance and recognition from others, and instead of finding out about their own values, they try to adopt for themselves the values that are accepted on a group or community level.
Many of these young men and women, often without realizing it, do suffer from their lack of identity while they may be well accepted and even popular in the particular groupings in which they are a member. They try to do the impossible, to be accepted as a no-name, to be recognized for certain masks they are wearing and that are pleasing to the group. With one word, they live their lives as if acting on a stage.
When I act my life out like an actor, I do not live my life, I do as if living my life. I call this condition living a second-hand life. The qualities, the attitude, the values and the lifestyle I display are not my own, cannot be my own because I do not know, deep down, who I am.
And when I do not know who I am, how can I know what attitude, what values, what lifestyle fits my inner makeup? The fatal misdirection in my life then comes from searching outside what can only be found inside.
When you go around for identity shopping, you will surely be successful. You will end up buying into a second-hand identity or a multiple choice of second-hand identities. This society, with its strong mercantile makeup is set to lead you astray and get you to play your passive role of an obedient consumer, a thankful no-name, a willing credit card holder and money-spender.
One of the hangers these young people use for their identity is some or the other peculiar sexual orientation; they thus are using their particular sexual orientation as an identity-hanger. They actually seem to believe in the myth that our sexual conditioning was something that molds us for life.
I would like to try helping some of these unlucky youngsters but in my experience so far I found them to be very defensive, while I could show them with much evidence for the view that sexuality is moving, changing and relative, and that it follows our emotional predilections.
The reigning view in this matter was mainly forged by Sigmund Freud who considered sexual attraction as an unconscious, and mostly uncontrollable robot-like drive. I believe this is one of the most fundamental scientific errors Freud committed, and that unfortunately was blindly taken over by the modern psychological establishment.
What are the consequences?
These persons obviously take their sexual attraction not only for granted and eternally unchanging, but also as a hanger for their identity. These persons, and they are many in postmodern global consumer culture, inquire only superficially, or not at all into who they really are as individuals. Instead, they fetch a standard misnomer like homosexual, lesbian, sm or pedophile for defining themselves as a person.
This process of self-labeling brings about many undesirable consequences such as a scapegoat belonging because it encourages projection. But despite the awkward situation this creates in the lives of these individuals, the need for a form of belonging is so strong in the human being that in a time where social contacts get more and more impersonal, if not inhuman, many people are craving for some sort of grouping they can attach to in order to say Look, here I am. I am a green frog. What a green frog is can be looked up on my blog, my web site, my community, or the grouping where I belong to.
Instead of defining themselves as persons who have feelings, they do all for society to think that they are one-dimensional, narrow-focused and obsessed freaks who hide their feelings in order to appear tough, strong and outgoing, social. Instead of maintaining a position of equity where they can define their own reality and value-system, they more or less unconditionally subscribe to the standard misnomer concepts defined by a materialistic and spiritually hardly conscious society.
With one word: instead of being simple, honest and vulnerable, they want to be heroes.
To brand your identity with standard labels forged by mainstream establishment is really the death of autonomy, and psychologically, it means you simply do not accept yourself. Instead, you let society decide about this acceptance, either positively by embracing you, or negatively by rejecting you. Because if you do not accept yourself, how can you expect others doing it for you?
Thus, whatever others think about your particular sexual attraction is only important for you if you make it important for you.
And you make it important for you when you use these labels and thus apply for your own life the whole belief system in which these labels are imbedded.
This means you put yourself in a psychological prison, thus becoming a slave to public opinion.