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Multiple Racial Identities

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What are your thoughts about the implications of the complexity of identity, and what is the best way to utilize the information learned about each cultural group when working with an individual with multiple identities, particularly racial identities, in counseling/therapy?

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Based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR, [APA, 2002]) definition, Dissociative Identity Disorder is characterized by an identity that appears fragmented, rather than suggesting a separate personality (p.519). Further the DSM describes Dissociative Disorder that does not meet clinical criteria for the clinical category as "Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise specified, which includes de-personalization accompanied by de-realization (not perceiving reality), and prolonged periods of dissociation and intense coercive persuasion. (i.e., brainwashing, or thought indoctrination while captive. Thus, given the DSM's (2002) definition on multiple identities that do not reflect a clinical syndrome, individuals who have been culturally ostracized and socially marginalized would be included in this definition.

Spanos (1996) maintains that the concept of multiple identities has been handed down from Freudian psychoanalysis. According to Spanos, since the 19th century, there has been an increase in reported cases of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) with most involving 3 or more personalities (e.g., Coors, et al as cited in Spanos, 1996). However, as Spanos points out, despite the high rate of MPD that has been reported in studies, and those reported by clinicians who support MPD, other studies indicate that the rates of MPD are low (Merkey & Burbich, 1975 as cited in Spanos, 1996). Spanos report finding no cases of MPD among 89 patients, who were diagnosed with Dissociative and Conversion Disorders. He further adds that MPD appears ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the concepts of multiple identities in counseling therapy. The complexity of identity, and the best way to obtain information concerning particular cultural groups relative to multiple identities are discussed in 899 words.

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Janet Zandy's view of class is assessed.

What does Zandy mean when she calls class a ghost issue and how does Zandy define class?

Janet Zandy describes class as "an aspect of shared economic circumstances and shared social and cultural practices in relationship to positions of power.... [Class] shapes our lives and intersects with race, ethnicity, gender and geography in profound ways" (1996). In order to build inclusive environments, we must understand how these multiple identities can also intersect to "form an interlocking system of oppression" (Linkon 1999). In other words, we must understand our own relationships to power.

In reality, individual lives involve multiple and dynamic overlapping identities. While working-class people, for example, may share common experiences related to economic or social vulnerability, their experiences differ based on other aspects of identity. Working-class people of color often experience different forms of marginalization related to racial identity. The same is true of gender and class, sexual orientation and class, geography and class, etc. There is no single class identity: class is always experienced through multiple lenses.

Even if we recognize these intersections, we often aren't very skillful at describing them. Consequently, our conversations can dissolve into competitions over who is most marginalized, distracting from powerful opportunities to build bridges across difference. By developing class consciousness that attends to multiple identities, we increase our ability to provide effective leadership, create diverse environments, and expand the foundations of knowledge.

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