Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Personal Identity, Group Attachment and Abuse

In our local paper, one of the leaders at our university, states that "respect is yours, have it"! This is important news, because the context is a local domestic violence organization called "Hands of Hope". The abused need to know that they can have hope beyond the definitions that their abusor have given them. Hope is inspired when the heart is strenghtened with encouragement and empowerment.

Why is respect necessary to break free of abusive systems? Self respect is negated in environments that teach dependence or group mentality. Psychologists say this is an unhealthy attachment, because personal identity ceases to exist in such environments. The group defines what is right for the individual. The individual is negated because the individual has no choice about the matter. They are to obey and submit to what the system designs and desires.

A system is organizational structuring and is not wrong, in and of itself. But, if the system is not focused on giving freedom to individuals, but defining them, then the system ceases to be a healthy one. Cultures define individuals, but are not necessarily unhealthy, unless they take away the right of the individual to freely choose and determine their own life. Children, of course, are defined by their families, but young adults should come to a place where they understand their own person. This is personal identity.

Personal identity is important to develop, as it helps the individual to define their values and commitments. Reason is engaged in this formative stage and can bring about transformation of the person's understanding of themselves, their true values, and their reasons for choosing those values. This is an important stage in coming to terms with life calling. A life calling is not defined by others, only developed. And developing others in thier gifts is a life calling itself!

No comments: