Multiphrenia-the inability to know who we really are

Painting by Jackson Pollock (I think, found this online)

According to the book Social Psychology, Identity Theory relates to “the enduring nature of one’s thoughts about who she is”. Our identity refers to our internal thoughts about who we are in social categories as well as personal characteristics. Growing up in various environments, having to move from country to country, and living in ever- changing family circumstances has allowed me to form my own identity. I was born in Hamburg, Germany because my parents attained their highest education liberation there, wedded there, and gave birth to my brother and I. I, of course, was fish out of water from the beginning of birth. While everyone in my class had blonde hair and blue eyes, I had semi- brown hair and light brown eyes. Although I had some Dutch blood in me, I was still very alien to the German land; I was Taiwanese in ethnicity.

Stryker’s first principle portrays that behavior is based on an already defined and classified world. In my case, I was born and living in a foreign land. I was, from birth, an outsider looking in. I spoke fluent German, even better than the natives. I believe that my ability to accept the arts, music, and western influences derived from my upbringing in German kindergarten and schooling. I noticed that I am more blunt in personality and speech than most Asians; this is also derived from my German upbringing. As a result, Stryker is correct in stating that our behavior is based on a defined culture and world.

If I was born anywhere else, I may not be the same person and identity as I am now. If I was born in Taiwan, Japan, or any other asian country, I may be more reserved and unable to speak my mind. At the same time, I might be more studious and even smarter in academics instead of in the arts? These are all stereotypes of course, but true in general of Eastern and Western culture.

Fortunately, I got a taste of both worlds by moving to Taipei, Taiwan at the age of 5 or 6. Everything was a blur actually at that age. I don’t remember sitting in the plane and flying to another foreign land. All I remember is the teacher that used to hit me on the hand and friends I made and still keep in touch. At that age, I was able to pick up Chinese quite easily. Unfortunately, I lost most of my German speaking and listening skills. I had no opportunity to practice it since my mother never enforced me to speak it. At a young age, I started picking up culture norms, language, lingos, and other cultural acceptable to- do’s. I don’t recall intentionally telling people I was born in Germany. I didn’t think anything of it, it never crossed my mind at that age. I thought I was the same as everyone else. I got in trouble a lot because I talked so much in class. Now that I think about it, I realize that my German ways had crossed over negatively in my new culture.

You can see how my identity was confused according to the fourth concept that people develop their identities based on their positions in society. What was my identity? When you are young, you don’t really think about your identity. When you are young, you live and learn, fall and learn, and just go with it. Thus, even though I felt and knew I was different, I went along with symbolic interaction, acting independently of constraints. I tried to conform even when I moved to America at the age of 8. Throughout middle school, I struggled with my identity. I hated Gap clothes, but everyone wore them. I wore handmade clothes and got made fun of. I was loud and dysfunctional in peoples’ eyes. The greatest sin in middle school is not to conform, and I had committed it.

Finally, nearing eighth grade, I decided in my mind that I would be a freak. I created from within an image of the unique girl, the unique freak, and the person that is apart and different from everyone else. I found hope and faith in God and became perfectly comfortable with the person that He had created me to be. In high school, I got voted most unique. Even now, I feel like a 60 year old woman inside because of all the trauma, changes, and cultures that I have experienced. Some of the trauma included lost of multiple culture made identities, divorce, lost of friends, moving to a new environment and learning new cultures, loneliness, adaptation, and other numerous confusions and distress. When Dr. Carbajal asked whether anyone feels like they have accomplished everything they wanted to in life, I wanted to raise my hand. However, I realized there are still things I want to do. I want to travel and see the whole world, to save victims of human trafficking and slavery, to feed the hungry, and finally on a personal level, reconcile and build a relationship with my father. I also want a life partner I can do all these things with and of course raise revolutionary kids that can change the world for good. I will not over control my children, but give them freedom to pursue their dreams, just as my own mother has.

Brand equity is a term to describe brands and companies. However, I believe it can be used to describe human beings. Each of us have unique personalities, vibes, talents, interests, and characteristics that can only be attributed to us. The combination of traits makes us who we are. The situated self refers to the temporary image we create to impress certain people. For example, at an interview we would be extremely professional, but at a party we would let lose.  Postmodern theorists argue that the “self has become ‘saturated’ in recent years because we have so many ‘others’ with whom we interact”, causing us to have ‘multiphrenia’, the inability to know who we really are.

I believe that all this proves the necessity for each individual to search deep within and face their true self. Our society is flooded with marketing schemes, marketing self, and false advertising. As students enter the work force, they are forced to create an image that may betray who they really are. I believe that it doesn’t have to be like this. Personally, I want to be as genuine as I can be. I have built life time friendships with my past bosses. Though we might not be as buddy- buddy as I am with my best friends, but we have built mutual- respect and trust. I do not lie to them about my perspectives or views on anything, even if it may offend them. I am perfectly okay with being different from others and still being able to respect them. This may all come from my tri- cultural background. This is important since the world is merging into one big melting pot. If we don’t know who we are and what we stand for, we will most certainly lose ourselves in a world of lies, hidden agendas, and identity- less selves.

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5 thoughts on “Multiphrenia-the inability to know who we really are

  1. It really seems like it could be a Jackson Pollack, though! Could understand the mistaken identity in the painting and within yourself. You are not a freak! You are unique! Thank you for sharing this with us!

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