"Identity crisis is the failure to achieve ego identity during adolescence." The term was coined by the psychologist Erik Erikson. The stage of psychosocial developmentin which identity crisis may occur is called the Identity Cohesion versus Role Confusion stage. During this stage of adolescence, we are faced with physical growth, sexual maturation, and integrating our ideas of ourselves and about what others think of us. We form our self-image and endure the task of resolving the crisis of our basic ego identity. Successful resolution of the crisis depends on one’s progress through previous developmental stages, centering on issues such as trust, autonomy, and initiative.
Those who emerge from this stage with a strong sense of identity are well equipped to face adulthood with confidence and certainty. “Those who fail to achieve a cohesive identity-who experience an identity crisis-will exhibit a confusion of roles,” not knowing who they are, where they belong, or where they want to go. This sort of unresolved crisis leaves individuals struggling to “find themselves.”