Intimacy Versus Isolation

Young adulthood is marked by the psychosocial crisis of mthnacy versus isolation. Intimacy is the ability to fuse one's identity with that of another person without fear of losing it. Because intimacy can only be achieved after people have formed a stable ego, the infatuations often found hi young adolescents are not true mthnacy. People who are unsure of their identity may either shy away from psychosocial intimacy or desperately seek intimacy through meaningless sexual encounters.

In contrast, mature intimacy means an ability and willingness to share a mutual trust. It involves sacrifice, compromise, and commitment within a relationship of two equals. It should be a requirement for marriage, but many marriages lack intimacy because some young people marry as part of then search for the identity that they failed to establish during adolescence.

The psychosocial counterpart to intimacy is isolation, defined as "the incapacity to take chances with one's identity by sharing true mthnacy" (Erikson, 1968, p. 137). Some people become financially or socially successful, yet retain a sense of isolation because they are unable to accept the adult responsibilities of productive work, procreation, and mature love.

Agahi, some degree of isolation is essential before one can acquire mature love. Too much togetherness can diminish a person's sense of ego identity, which leads that person to a psychosocial regression and an inability to face the next developmental stage. The greater danger, of course, is too much isolation, too little intimacy, and a deficiency in the basic strength of love.

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