What is an identity barrier?

What is an identity barrier?

Identity disorder is a term used to describe the incoherence or inconsistency of a person’s identity awareness. This may mean that one’s goals, beliefs, and behaviors are constantly changing.

It may also be that this person has the personality characteristics of those around them, because they strive to own and maintain their identity.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) describes identity disorder as “obvious and persistently unstable self-image or self-awareness” and points out that it is one of the main symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Of course people no BPD also struggles with identity barriers. However, people with BPD often lack self-awareness or lose their identity. If you are struggling with a feeling of not knowing who you are or what you believe in, this may be a symptom that you can relate to.

Understand identity

Identity is often thought of as your overall feeling and perception of yourself. A stable sense of identity means being able to see yourself as the same person in the past, present, and future. In addition, a stable self-awareness requires the ability to see yourself in the same way, although sometimes you may behave in contradictory ways.

The identity is quite broad, including many aspects of the self. Your self-awareness or identity is considered to include the following elements:

  • Your beliefs and attitudes
  • Your view of your abilities
  • The way you behave (even if these change)
  • Your character and temperament
  • your opinion
  • Your social role

Identity can be thought of as your self-definition; it is the glue that holds all these different aspects of you together.

Why identity is important

Identity has many different functions. A strong identity can help you adapt to changes. Although the world around you is constantly changing, if you have a strong sense of self, you will basically have an anchor to support you when you adapt. Without that anchor point, changes can become chaotic or even scary.

In addition, having a strong identity allows you to develop self-esteem. Without knowing who you are, how can you develop a feeling that you are worthy of respect and respect?


Identity interference is sometimes referred to as identity proliferation. This means that it is difficult to determine your relationship with other people. Some people with BPD may describe this as having difficulty understanding where they end and where another person starts.

People with BPD often report that they don’t know who they are or what they believe in. Sometimes they report that they just feel like they don’t exist. Some people even say that they are almost like “chameleons” in terms of identity; they will change themselves according to their own situation and what they think others want from them.

For example, you may find yourself playing a party role in social events, but behave melancholy and serious at work. Of course, everyone in a different environment will change their behavior to some extent, but in BPD, this change is more profound.

Those who experience identity barriers may experience inconsistent beliefs and behaviors; they may also tend to over-identify with groups or roles rather than their personal identities.

Many people with BPD status disorder say that in addition to changing behavior, their thoughts and feelings will also change with the current situation. For example, they may often change their views on the following:

  • Their career
  • friendship
  • ambition
  • Their opinions and beliefs
  • Other major life decisions

Therefore, many people with BPD have difficulty establishing and maintaining healthy personal boundaries, and encounter difficulties in interpersonal and intimate relationships. They may also have difficulty making commitments to values, goals, and work.

In addition, people with identity disorders find that their mood changes frequently and unpredictably.

Relationship issues in BPD

Those who struggle with status barriers in BPD often find it difficult to build close relationships with other people. People with status disabilities may experience the negative effects of low self-esteem, including lack of self-esteem and personal boundaries. This can make it particularly difficult to establish contact with other people.

For people with identity disorders, another relationship challenge is to feel a lack of support or meaninglessness in their relationship. It is common for people with identity disorders to feel “empty” in their hearts.

Since it is difficult for them to find meaning in themselves, they may face the challenge of finding meaning in their relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.


There are few studies on identity issues related to BPD, but there are many theories about why BPD patients often struggle with identity.

For example, Dr. Marsha Linehan, a leading BPD researcher and founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), believes that in addition to observing the reactions of others to you, you can also establish your identity by observing your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

All these factors make it difficult to form a coherent self-awareness, because the inner experience and the outer behavior are inconsistent.

In addition, many people with BPD come from chaotic or abusive backgrounds, This may lead to unstable self-awareness. If you determine who you are based on other people’s reactions to you, and these reactions are unpredictable and/or scary, then you don’t have a framework for a strong sense of identity.

The ability to understand the state of mind of oneself and others is called psychologicalization. This is especially difficult for those with identity barriers and BPD. This means that it is difficult for them to understand human behavior and intentions, which makes it more difficult for them to understand themselves and others.

A study published in 2017 showed that this psychological problem may be the reason why BPD patients are so struggling with identity proliferation and interpersonal relationships.

How to find yourself

How do you answer this question who am I? Of course, there is no magic solution to the identity problem. However, most BPD treatments contain components that can help you begin to discover who you are and what you represent.

Usually, the first step is to find a good therapist who can help you with your identity. BPD treatments that may help with identity disorders include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy can help identify any restrictive beliefs a person has about themselves or others, making it easier to build relationships over time. It also addresses underlying anxiety and emotional symptoms.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This helps someone cope with strong emotions and control destructive behaviors. Mindfulness is usually a technique used in DBT.
  • Psychological-based therapy (MBT): In MBT, the therapist helps BPD patients improve their interpersonal skills. This type of treatment aims to strengthen their understanding of the thoughts or feelings of themselves and others.
  • Empathy Centered Psychotherapy (TFP): In TFP, when visitors interact with their therapist, their identity disorder will be in a therapeutic relationship in many ways the same way they are with someone in their personal lives Play a role. This provides a way for the therapist to support the integration of different aspects of the patient’s self.
  • Schema-centric therapy (SFT): SFT integrates various psychotherapeutic techniques to try to help patients change deep-rooted, self-defeating patterns or schemas that may cause identity challenges.

In addition, you can solve the identity interference problem yourself in a variety of ways. You can start to discover what you think is meaningful in your life. This type of self-discovery combined with therapy may be most effective, especially when people with identity disabilities often have difficulty finding meaning.

Knowing what is most important to you can give you a greater sense of identity. Many people find creative channels to be a useful way to express and understand themselves.

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Everyone is struggling with identity issues. If you sometimes want to know who you are and what your life means, then you are not alone. If you are struggling with status barriers, please know that there are healthcare professionals and many types of treatments that can help. With the right support, you can overcome identity barriers and other symptoms of BPD.