Who the Frag Am I?

February 9, 2010

On Identity

Filed under: Identity — wtfmi @ 8:20 pm

When I was seeing a therapist for severe depression, she asked me one day to describe myself — not my demographics, but my core self.

I was unable to do this.

I can just barely, in my mind, feel out a concept that encompasses the totality of my core self, but I completely lack the words to describe it. In fact, I don’t think there are words to describe it. (Or colors, or shapes, or smells.) And considering how reliant I am upon words, how fond I am of using them to denote exact shades of meaning … yeah.

So then my therapist asked me to list the five to ten adjectives that best describe me. (I’m not sure how this was different from asking me to describe myself. Perhaps because it was a list.) And again, I couldn’t do it.

But I wanted to show willing, so I asked if she could suggest some adjectives, and then I would tell her exactly how well and in what way they applied to me. “Give me an adjective, any adjective, and I’ll tell you how it fits. And it will fit in one way or another,” I said.

She looked at me with the oddest expression, like she wasn’t sure what to do with me.

I read somewhere — although I can’t find it now and it’s quite possible that I misunderstood anyway — that people on the autism spectrum sometimes have problems with self-identification. Apparently some of us don’t easily separate the ‘inside’ of our identity from the ‘outside’ of the world.

This makes a lot of sense to me: how you could possibly separate who you are from what you’ve experienced? Even if you try to keep the discussion strictly biological, i.e. “I have genetic predispositions to mood disorders,” or “I was born with autism,” you are still talking about a specific expression of the genes which is based on your (biochemical) environment.

Anyway. So I can’t accurately describe myself outside of space and time. But I’m going to spend time and space here, on this blog, considering the question of who I am right now.

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