Discussions of identity and its disorders in the psychiatric literature of the past 2 decades have become increasingly frequent, and the subject has been referred to as the characteristic form of psychopathology of present day society.* This paper will deal with clinical aspects of pathology of identity, derived primarily from observations of patients who as a group best fit that vast terminological miscellaneous file titled borderline cases.
Frequency aside, it is not easy to orient identity problems within the conventional nosological framework. Such disorders are recognizable but not necessarily obvious in the classical transference neuroses. In overt psychoses, identity pathology is present, but obscured by the more dramatic aberrations of affect and perception and the restitutional mechanisms so characteristic of such diseases. It is in the category of borderline pathology that disturbances of identity are encountered as the predominant symptoms and presenting mode of illness.5,26,37,41,46