Programmed identities

A close look into the psychology of the human mind reveals some startling observations about this thing we call our ‘personalities’. The fact is, most of the time it’s just an act. I’m not disputing the existence of an authentic self, and I don’t believe in the post-modern concept of there being no universal truth, but the essential self is very difficult to locate.

Jung created personality ‘types’ based on our general approaches to life, but these approaches are influenced by self-image, which in turn is influenced by society, media, nurture, and only a small degree of nature. So, most of the time, our personalities are just an act of how we want to be perceived. A lot of ‘de-programming’ would have to take place before the personality can really shine through…

A recent programme on Channel 4 in the UK looked at the authenticity of national identity, and found that it was very easy to see through it. The programme was called 100% English; it asked some people who perceived themselves as 100% English what it actually meant to be English. These people saw themselves as English because they believed their genes were 100% northern European. Based on their sense of self, they judged and classified others. One man said that an English person ‘does not have black skin’ and has British ancestry for at least the past 12 generations. Every single one of these people did a genetic test which discovered that there was racial mixture in their genetic ancestry. Those with little genetic mixture were thought to be boring, as the scientist described mixture as a good thing which resulted from various cross-cultural migrations. The people who felt themselves to be 100% English took back everything they had previously said about their identity when they found out they were Middle-Eastern, Asian or East European in varying degrees. Their whole perception of themselves and others changed instantaneously, which probably changed their behaviour, relationships, and ‘personality’.

As we already knew, national identity is not inherent, but how do we locate that which is..?

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