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Thread: sense of identity / coherency of self

  1. #1
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    sense of identity / coherency of self

    This is a concept I'm troubled with lately.

    I'm quite drunk now, so let's go with it.

    Do you have a coherent internal concept of your own identity? Are you a thing? Can you describe yourself to someone else? Do you sense that you need to? Who would you say you are, in one short paragraph (not an actual request, necessarily, but... how does that work?)? Is this an issue that has ever crossed your mind, or am I just a retard? Are our personalities static, or changing through time, and is this normal, or a little different to normal, in which case, is that a problem?

  2. #2
    know nothing pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    There would be no need for a me without all these others. But there seem to be others, at least they say they are "I" so *I* follow the same convention. It's hard not to when the language is built from the ground up to do nothing else. But really, I and I and you and everyone are one consciousness.

  3. #3
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarydoor View Post
    This is a concept I'm troubled with lately.

    I'm quite drunk now, so let's go with it.

    Do you have a coherent internal concept of your own identity? Are you a thing? Can you describe yourself to someone else? Do you sense that you need to? Who would you say you are, in one short paragraph (not an actual request, necessarily, but... how does that work?)? Is this an issue that has ever crossed your mind, or am I just a retard? Are our personalities static, or changing through time, and is this normal, or a little different to normal, in which case, is that a problem?
    I'd mention nationality and occupation. This basically says nothing, and my life story is a lot more than that, but I don't really feel the need to explain more unless it comes up in conversation. I consider that the main structural component of my identity is the fact I'm a socialist. It's through that lens that I analyze current events, determine how I engage people, how I interpret culture and history and what my values are. I've been a socialist for 20 years and that's not going to change.

    It always seems a bit weird to me when people are confused as to their identity. But not everyone adopts a clear-cut and all-encompassing ideology. I say "clear-cut" only in general terms, because no two socialists think alike (as the amoebic-like history of socialist organization shows us). And I say "all-encompassing" only in general terms, because we're nothing if not a collection of contradictions. I should also say that it was not easy and relieving to adopt that ideology like something to check off my personal-identity checklist. It's an exercise in deciphering the world. At first it seems overhwelming but then it gets easier to use the "keys" you've picked up to make sense of things. It's also an exercise in modifying your own behavior and thinking. When you've finally come full circle is when you realize "but this doesn't explain everything".

    Identity mostly comes up in your actions and conversation. You don't need to go around proclaiming that you're this or that. But I think people do so at a younger age, when identity is being defined.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarydoor View Post
    This is a concept I'm troubled with lately.

    I'm quite drunk now, so let's go with it.

    Do you have a coherent internal concept of your own identity? Are you a thing? Can you describe yourself to someone else? Do you sense that you need to? Who would you say you are, in one short paragraph (not an actual request, necessarily, but... how does that work?)? Is this an issue that has ever crossed your mind, or am I just a retard? Are our personalities static, or changing through time, and is this normal, or a little different to normal, in which case, is that a problem?
    I am eternal spirit having a temporary experience in a body

    Within this physical reality i believe that people should be able to do what they want as long as they aren't hurting others which means I have libertarian sympathies which lean to the libertarian left but also share some ground with the libertarian right as i share their distrust of government

  5. #5
    No Thank You Blorg's Avatar
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    sure, here's one short paragraph. Most of the significant tendencies I had as a child, I still have, and the only difference is that now I've attached explanations to all of them. I've always had a "one person at a time" approach to conversations and all kinds of relationships, including friendships. I can't even imagine being attracted to anyone other than my boyfriend, it's like a switch flipped. Similarly, as a kid, I would always have just one friend who I tried to devote all my attention to. I was always sensitive, eager for praise, called a cry baby, but also sharp-tongued. Disorganized, but extremely methodical about whatever big "project" I was working on. I loved making habitats: fairy homes, mini-monster containers from garbage, dollhouses. I always obsessively rifled through my memories, wandering along trains of associations, promising myself never to forget any of the important points in my chronicle. I like small worlds for the same reason I like reviewing memories. I could write a lot about why I developed these qualities but it would be boring. The point is, I still have the same tendencies that caused these behaviors. For the most part, I enjoy living by them, and I suppose I consider them "me." I could boil them down to a clean list of 10 or so adjectives, basically a glorified Sim. But I'm tired of this paragraph already.

    So yes, I could describe myself to someone else, just did. But it gives me a deflated feeling; I think it's because I spend so much time thinking about myself already, and adding additional data points to this identity, that it's like beating a dead horse. In general, I'm suspicious of people who spend a lot of time explaining what kind of people they are. Personalities should follow the "show don't tell" principle; if they have to be told, I have to doubt their authenticity. (I'm talking about the kind of people who say "I have a great sense of humor.")

    As for the question about how static personalities are, my boring answer would be that I think they're kind of static and kind of not; the static parts are innate and the non-static parts are self-created. To put it another way, I'd imagine the US as a person. The US often thinks that it has certain essential qualities, and whenever those qualities aren't demonstrated by history or politics, they are simply gaps rather than components of the American identity. Slavery, for example, was a gap in the American identity, not a part of it. I think people make the same type of fallacy when they think about themselves. I know I do. It leads to a component of personality based on connections among memories as well as omissions. But just because this construction was self-made rather than something you were born with, that doesn't mean it's false. It still shapes behaviors and perceptions; it acts like the static elements of one's personality, so I'd say these fluid elements are just as important and real. They grow with time, too. For this reason, older people have more fluid, dynamic, and elaborate personalities than younger people, whose personalities are still mostly in the innate tendencies stage.

  6. #6
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    As time goes on, my perception of self as an elaborate but specific tangible set of wants and behavior has eroded. This once was a source of validation, to say "I'm an INTP". All the while my behavior itself appears less dynamic than it was. I've changed in every way, though not straying too far from the sense of an ambiguous "centre" that @Blorg describes.
    "All my heroes are dead" - John Zorn

    "It's not selfish if you hate yourself"

  7. #7
    Cooler than Jesus
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    I am struggle against entropy; a concentrated effort to maintain the boundaries, however much of an illusion that they are, that distinguish "me" from chaos. Equally, I'm struggle against bondage and anything that restricts my freedom. My identity and my life is made up of measures taken to stave off the misery that comes from stagnation and a lack of freedom.

    I struggled with identity a lot when I was in my later teens, I had very little sense of self. In retrospect that was largely because I just didn't have enough experience to understand my own wants, needs, motivations, etc. That said, I still frequently have the urge to be able to see myself as someone else would. I've gotten what I think is the clearest picture of this on psychedelics; at a certain point you can see the pieces of your identity in a very detached, clinical manner.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sinny's Avatar
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    I'd echo some of the sentiments shared by Madrigal & Blorg.. I have a strong sense of identity, those who don't always seem a bit .. foreign or fickle, to me. (Although some peoples identities could be naturally complex or fragmented).

    I don't usually volunteer information about myself, but I am happy to respond when asked. My friends usually introduce me as somebody who's highly opinionated, into politics and as a cynical bitch. They're right on all counts, but it all comes with a healthy dose of humour.

    I'm from the UK (a concept I believe in), I'm not British but I am English & Irish, I'm a Socialist, I strongly oppose the British Crown and it's Tory cronies.

    In reality I'm quite unassuming, although I prefer to be blunt. Cross one of my boundaries and you'll probably encounter my dark side.

    I'm not religious but I am fascinated with Spirituality, Gnosticism and various forms of "higher truths".
    Generally I think life is a "great work" and we should all be trying to improve ourselves.
    Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

    ~ Robert Jackson, Statesman (1892-1954)


  9. #9
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    i generally think of identity as a multi-faceted thing, and each person is made of many parts. like @Blorg i sorta think of there being static or "core" parts, and then the fluid, ever-changing parts shaped by choices and experiences. the static part isn't as important to me as the parts that have evolved with time and been shaped by dynamic factors.

    when somebody asks me to talk about who i am, i know they're not asking for everything about me, just those parts that would be relevant to them and the context of our interaction.

    i find it difficult to sum up my interests or activities cuz i have so many. when i try to talk about my interests, people tell me i'm an interesting person. i generally see myself as enthusiastic, creative and highly driven by curiosity and challenge, so sometimes i say that cuz it's short and generic enough. i may leave out the challenge part if i want to keep expectations lower cuz one life skill i'm trying to learn to prevent burnout is "planned mediocrity."

    i've gone through phases of exploring certain ideas or themes and those themes driving many of my conscious and unconscious choices. those phases, or chapters of my life, have made me who i am. this is something i keep to myself in most settings cuz it just feels so personal to talk about myself this way, in the context of my life history. it's not what most people are asking when they wanna know more about me.

    the central, core part of me i have difficulty talking about. it's something i thought i was an expert on, but the more i live the more that part of me becomes harder to sum up. my history just gets longer and weirder, and i change with every adaptation. all the new stuff eventually gets integrated into my self-image once i'm mostly done with whatever chapter i'm in.

    edit: listening to my old music playlists, i just thought of something. the "core" self could probably be adequately summed up by assessing the parts of the past that remain the present and future. the core is timeless and always true. it's the parts you can revisit at any time, no matter what's happening in your life or what new experiences you're going through. the playlists i've made as a teenager are really great windows into my music sensibility for instance.
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 01-16-2019 at 09:50 PM.
    i sneeze like a grandpa.

  10. #10
    Sysop Ptah's Avatar
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    I am who and what I am, no more, no less.

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