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NCJ Number: 76105 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Some Empirical Evidence for Erikson's Concept of Negative Identity in Delinquent Adolescent Drug Abusers
Journal: Comprehensive Psychiatry  Volume:19  Issue:2  Dated:(March-April 1978)  Pages:141-152
Author(s): E L Burke; N J Zilberg; F Amini; S Salasnek; D Forkin
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Health, Education, and Welfare
Rockville, MD 20857
Grant Number: DA00484-03; RA01DA0048402
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A group of 90 adolescent drug users was compared with a comparison group of nondrug users to determine whether Erikson's concept of negative identity was applicable to the drug abusers.
Abstract: The study aimed to determine whether the drug abusers would be similar to those in a previous study, which found that they rejected traditional values and expressed an ideal of distrust and nonconformity. The study subjects included 63 males and 27 females with a mean age of 16 years. All were referred to the study by the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department, had been in trouble with the law for a variety of offenses, and were also judged by the probation officer to have a drug abuse problem. Although, the control group which consisted mainly of summer school students and Peace Corps trainees, had a mean age of 21.9 years, it was felt to be a useful comparison group in that it embodied traditional American cultural values such as pursuit of education, altruism, and abstention from drugs. Data were collected using the Interpersonal Check List (ICL) devised by LaForge and Suczek; multivariate statistical techniques were used to analyze the data. The drug abusers scored significantly higher than the comparison group on the competitive-exploitive dimension. Other differences were not significant. Disparities between self-representations and ideal self-representations were similar for the two groups. Findings were consistent with Erikson's concept of negative identity, in that the drug abusers described their actual and desired modes of personal interactions as being significantly at variance from those of the control group. These findings confirm clinical observations that the drug abusers' negative identity represents capacities superior to those of the borderline personality, although these capacities are not sufficient for development of what Erikson termed 'ego identity.' Negative identity gives a sense of self and, if untreated, will probably produce antisocial or other adult maladaptive behavior; if treated, progress toward the formation of an ego identity is possible. Graphs, tables, and 25 references are included.
Index Term(s): Adolescent attitudes; Comparative analysis; Drug abuse; Personality assessment; Youthful offenders
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