It is remarkable how, almost simultaneously - the outbreak of the economic crisis in our country, Greece, was combined with discussions about “human’s lost identity”. Words like "change", "adjustment", "return" more and multiply wanting to describe the mobility molded to each person’s temperament who is violently forced to change his/her everyday way of life. The science of Sociology, Psychology and Political Economy can give us answers to why that happened.


Identity contributor

According to Freud, human personality is formed under the influence of two opposing propensities: one determined from the world of desires, which has the potential trend of satisfaction without restrictions and without regard to the fellow man. The other one determined by what Freud called the “superego” that is the socially accepted norms imposed and express stereotypes (fixed remuneration) of the social system. Between these two powers ego is formed, the personality of man.

But the economic system that prevails in Greece in the last 50 years (neoliberal - capitalist), reversed the pyramid of values by placing in the top materialism rather humanity, thus forming both impulses and social constants. As successfully Marcuse  analyzed, the oppression of "libido forces" in modern development, is made on such a scale that creative elements necessary for the development of the human personality being lost. People live so one-dimensionally as economic beings (Homo Economicus).

Social stereotypes continued to occupy a huge area and form in a big way people’s behavior. The adjustment process in stereotypes works with such a facility that not only does not become compulsively but almost spontaneously, acting as a relieve in the soul of the average person who receives social standards as an authority above him, a principle that indemnifies him from the weight and responsibility of a personal evaluation and decision. As Nietzsche mentioned, it is easier to obey to someone else, than can you define yourself.

So, as long as the system was stable and the basic rules were not being doubted, the process of socialization (and personal’s identity) was relatively simple and safe. But when the question began to exceed a certain tolerance of the system, problems created in the socialization process. This is because the actual situations, physical economic - social conditions that gave birth to an evaluative and regulatory system changed. The "rules of the game” changed unexpectedly, without warning and violently.

So, what financial crisis created was the vibration of a society which was organized systemically on the standards of the economy.

By changing the rules many people automatically found exposed, defenseless, outside the circle of the group that until then protected them. What makes this process even more painful is that the system does not admit its mistakes, thus attributing the elimination responsibility in human itself. This condition has physical consequences as the other members of the System, not eliminated yet, sideline people who come out of the cycle of social adjustment which in a second time feel guilty, inadequate, "little".

Whether we consider the above behavior of isolation as correct, each contrariety to a social situation or a certain social system should be downgraded to an individual problem. Besides, this is the reason why term “maladjusted” in the perception of degraded for human social manipulative, it means practically not that a person resists against a certain social environment but that he/she has individual malfunctions and abnormalities. Certainly we cannot say that this is true.

Best example to prove the above will not be found by our own country, Greece. In 2010 when our fiscal problems started to have a strong presence in international Media, terms such as “Greek statistics”, “lazy”, “thieves” and other numerous insulting epithets wandered for a long time until we finally get to the «We are all Greeks» - slogan that accompanied demonstrations of millions of unemployed and excluded from the System throughout Europe.

The social role and identity search

The human quest for identity is closely linked to the social roles he has chosen or imposed. Crisis has intervened in each part separately with the man to be adjusted separately to each role.

The "one-dimensional man" as called by Marcuse is (was) a reality in our time. Is the one who under the crushing weight of the Media, propaganda and advertising, adopts credulity and passivity. Reacts and thinks evenly with all the others and is an easy prey for various authoritarian "elites" and interests. In this respect, Marcuse is right when he considers human as a “thinking and speaking engine” with complete disregard of the importance of human action.

The freedom of the isolated and excised human is illusory because even when it is not under the debilitating pressure of the struggle for survival, hetero-determinates across the line through a competitive society adapt to the determinism of puts human completely out of the pursuit of genuine self-realization and the obligation to limit the meaning of life in a power struggle.

The reversal of the pyramid of values, to which we referred at the beginning, is being reflected perfectly in the image of society. "Good father" is the father providing material goods to his children, "good professional" is the one who makes a lot of money etc. So, although people grow up by learning what is right, moral or lawfulness in course they transform to a consumer that morality matters less than the material.

Search for identity through time

In an environment where everything is moving people tend to seek stability points. Lighthouses. This process is not easy as it creates too much stress and fear. Anxiety and fear are two identical emotional reactions toward risk and may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling, sweating or strong heartbeat that may be so strong that the sudden intense of fear induce even death.

The deeper understanding of the conditions under we live helps us to understand ourselves much better. So we can understand our emotions better and discover our real possibilities without feeling insecurity because we can’t (or want) to lie in Procrustes’  Bed to be increased or decreased and finally fit in the existing system.

As Karen Horney  mentioned difference between the potential and the actual return of a human can be attributed to external conditions. But many times, even if conditions are in favor, human remains unproductive as it has the impression of barring the way he's self.

Search, or rather better, the creation of identity through time is a tedious process, dependent on many external factors which are constantly changing. Every one of us has to find out those standards that will keep us upright to every change. But as each person is different, so are the standards. We must be very careful when we show unlimited trust in a system that at any moment can be reversed or alienated.


1. Vassilis Filias (1979). Aspects of preservation and change the Social System. Nea Sinora, A.A Livani.

2. Herbert Marcuse (1971). One-dimensional man. Papazisis Publications.

3. Frank Pittman (1997). Man enough. Human Systems.

4. Karen Horney (1975). The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. Athens: Epicourous Publ.

5. Irvin D. Yalom. (2001). When Nietzsche Wept. Athens: Agra Publ.

6. Carl Marx (1987). Capital critique of political economy: the process of capital circulation (P. Mavromatis, Trans.). Athens: Sinhroni epohi.

7. Sigmund Freud (2014). Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (V. Patsogiannis. Trans.).  Athens: Plethron.