This conclusion is dependent on the assumption that traditional sex mores will continue to sanction both premarital chastity as the `` ideal '' , and the double standard holding females primarily responsible for preserving the ideal .
Our discussion of this involves using Erik Erikson's schema of `` identity vs. identity diffusion '' as a conceptual tool in superimposing a few common denominators onto the diverse personality and family configurations of the unwed mothers from whose case histories we quoted earlier .
Our discussion does not utilize all the identity crises postulated by Erikson , but is intended to demonstrate the utility of his theoretical schema for studying unwed mothers .
We hope thereby to emphasize that , from a psychological standpoint , the effectual prevention of illegitimacy is a continuous long-term process involving the socialization of the female from infancy through adolescence .
Hypothesizing a series of developmental stages that begin in the individual's infancy and end in his old age , Erikson has indicated that the adolescent is faced with a series of identity crises .
The successful and positive resolution of these crises during adolescence involves an epigenetic principle -- during adolescence , the individual's positive resolutions in each area of identity crisis depend , to a considerable degree , on his already having resolved preliminary and preparatory identity crises during his infancy , childhood , and early adolescence .
Within Erikson's schema , the adolescent's delinquent behavior -- in this case , her unwed motherhood -- reflects her `` identity diffusion '' , or her inability to resolve these various identity crises positively .
The adolescent experiences identity crises in terms of time perspective vs. time diffusion .
Time perspective -- the ability to plan for the future and to postpone gratifying immediate wants in order to achieve long-range objectives -- is more easily developed if , from infancy on , the individual has been able to rely on and trust people and the world in which she lives .
Erikson has noted that , unless this trust developed early , the time ambivalence experienced , in varying degree and temporarily , by all adolescents ( as a result of their remembering the more immediate gratification of wants during childhood , while not yet having fully accepted the long-range planning required by adulthood ) may develop into a more permanent sense of time diffusion .
Experience of this time diffusion ranges from a sense of utter apathy to a feeling of desperate urgency to act immediately .
These polar extremes in time diffusion were indicated in some of the comments by unwed mothers reported in earlier chapters .
Some of these mothers , apparently feeling a desperate urgency , made , on the spur of the moment , commitments , in love and sex , that would have life-long consequences .
Others displayed utter apathy and indifference to any decision about the past or the future .
For many of these unwed mothers , the data on their family life and early childhood experiences revealed several indications and sources of their basic mistrust of their parents in particular and of the world in general .
However , as Erickson has noted , the individual's failure to develop preliminary identities during infancy and childhood need not be irreversibly deterministic with respect to a given area of identity diffusion in his ( or her ) adolescence .
And , as shown in Chapter 6 , , some SNP females originally developed such trust only during their adolescence , through the aid of , and their identification with , alter-parents .
In the specific case of time diffusion , we must emphasize the significance of the earlier development of mistrust when it is combined with the inevitable time crisis experienced by most ( if not all ) adolescents in our society , and with the failure of the adolescent period to provide opportunities for developing trust .
The adolescent experiences two closely related crises : self-certainty vs. an identity consciousness ; ;
and role-experimentation vs. negative identity .
A sense of self-certainty and the freedom to experiment with different roles , or confidence in one's own unique behavior as an alternative to peer-group conformity , is more easily developed during adolescence if , during early childhood , the individual was permitted to exercise initiative and encouraged to develop some autonomy .
However , if the child has been constantly surrounded , during nursery and early school age , by peer groups ; ;
inculcated with the primacy of group acceptance and group standards ; ;
and allowed little initiative in early play and work patterns -- then in adolescence her normal degree of vanity , sensitivity , and preoccupation with whether others find her appearance and behavior acceptable , will be compounded .
Her ostensible indifference to and rebellion against suggestions and criticisms by anyone except peer friends during adolescence are the manifestations , in her adolescence , of her having been indoctrinated in childhood to feel shame , if not guilt , for failing to behave in a manner acceptable to , and judged by , the performance of her nursery- and elementary-school peer friends .
To be different is to invite shame and doubt ; ;
and it is better to be shamed and criticized by one's parents , who already consider one different and difficult to understand , than by one's peers , who are also experiencing a similar groping for and denial of adult status .
The attitudes of some unwed mothers quoted in Chapter 2 , , revealed both considerable preoccupation with being accepted by others and a marked absence of self-certainty .
Many appeared to regard their sexual behavior as a justifiable means of gaining acceptance from and identification with others ; ;
but very few seemed aware that such acceptance and identification need to be supplemented with more enduring and stable identification of and with one's self .
Another identity crisis confronting the adolescent involves anticipation of achievement vs. work-paralysis .
The adolescent's capacity to anticipate achievement and to exercise the self-discipline necessary to complete tasks successfully depends on the degree to which he or she developed autonomy , initiative , and self-discipline during childhood .
The developmental process involves the individual's progressively experiencing a sense of dignity and achievement resulting from having completed tasks , having kept commitments , and having created something ( however small or simple -- even a doll dress of one's own design rather than in the design `` it ought to be '' ) .
These childhood experiences are sources of the self-certainty that the adolescent needs , for experimenting with many roles , and for the freedom to fail sometimes in the process of exploring and discovering her skills and abilities .
If she has not had such experiences , the female's normal adolescent degree of indecision will be compounded .
She may well be incapacitated by it when she is confronted with present and future alternatives -- e.g. , whether to prepare primarily for a career or for the role of a homemaker ; ;
whether to stay financially dependent on her parents or help support herself while attending school ; ;
whether to pursue a college education or a job after high school ; ;
and whether to attend this or that college and to follow this or that course of study .
Erikson has noted that , as this indecision mounts , it may result in a `` paralysis of workmanship '' .
This paralysis may be expressed in the female's starting -- and never completing -- many jobs , tasks , and courses of study ; ;
and in the fact that she bases her decisions about work , college , carreer , and studies on what others are doing , rather than on her own sense of identity with given skills , abilities , likes , and dislikes .
The absence , during her childhood and early adolescence , of experiences in developing the self-discipline to complete tasks within her ability -- experiences that would have been subsequent sources of anticipation of achievement -- and her lack of childhood opportunities to practice autonomy and initiative in play and expression , both tend in her adolescence to deprive her of the freedoms to role-experiment and to fail occasionally in experimenting .
The comments made by some unwed mothers ( quoted in Chapter 2 ) ) reflect this paralysis of workmanship .
They attended school and selected courses primarily on the basis of decisions others made ; ;
they accepted a job primarily because it was available , convenient , and paid reasonably .
These things both express and , at the same time , continue contributing to , their identity diffusion in an area that could have become a source of developing dignity and self-certainty .
As their identity diffusion increased , they became more susceptible to sporadic diversions in love and sexual affairs .
These affairs temporarily relieved the monotony of school or work activities containing no anticipation of achievement and joy of craftsmanship , no sense of dignity derived from a job well done .
Childhood experiences in learning work and self-discipline habits within a context of developing autonomy and initiative have considerable significance for the prevention of illegitimacy .
The excerpts from case histories presented above confirm this significance , though through different facets of experience .
For example , some unwed mothers had had no work experiences , household chores , and responsibilities during childhood and early adolescence ; ;
they subsequently occupied their leisure hours in searching for something exciting and diverting .
Sex was both .
On the other hand , some unwed mothers had had so much work and responsibility imposed on them at an early age , and had thus had so little freedom or opportunity to develop autonomy and initiative , that their work and responsibilities became dull and unrewarding burdens -- to be escaped and rebelled against through fun and experimentation with forbidden sexual behavior .
The adolescent also faces the identity crisis that Erikson has termed ideological polarization vs. diffusion of ideals .
In discussing the ways this crisis is germane to consderations for the prevention of illegitimacy , we shall again superimpose Erikson's concept on our data .
Adolescents have a much-discussed tendency to polarize ideas and values , to perceive things as `` either-or '' , black or white -- nuances of meaning are relatively unimportant .
This tendency is , perhaps , most clearly revealed in the literature on religious conversions and experiences of adolescents .
Erikson has postulated that such ideological polarization temporarily resolves their search for something stable and definite in the rapidly changing and fluctuating no-man's-land between childhood and adulthood .
It provides identification -- with an idea , a value , a cause that cuts through , or even transcends , the multiple and ambivalent identities of their passage from child to adult , and permits their forceful and overt expression of emotion .
The positive development , during adolescence , of this capacity to think and to feel strongly and with increasing independence , and to identify overtly either with or against given ideas , values , and practices , depends to a considerable degree on both previous and present opportunities for developing autonomy , initiative , and self-certainty .
Most adolescents have some ideological diffusion at various developmental stages , as they experience a proliferation of ideas and values .
The diffusion is most pronounced and most likely to become fixed , however , in those who have had no or very minimal opportunities to develop the autonomy and initiative that could have been directed into constructive expression and so served as sources of developing self-certainty .
A pronounced ideological diffusion -- i.e. , inability to identify independently with given ideas and value systems -- is reflected in many ways .
For example , it is evinced by the adolescent ( or adult ) whose beliefs and actions represent primarily his rebellion and reaction against the ideas and behavior patterns of others , rather than his inner conviction and choice .
It is mirrored by the individual Willie Lohmans , whose ideas and behavior patterns are so dependent and relativistic that they always coincide with those of the individual or group present and most important at the moment .
In another sense , it is represented in the arguments of the `` true believers '' who seek to disprove the validity of all other beliefs and ideas in order to retain confidence in theirs .
The case histories provide some interesting illustrations of ideological diffusion , embodied in the unwed mother's inability to identify independently a given value system or behavior pattern , , and her subsequent disinclination to assume any individual responsibility for her sexual behavior .
For example , the unwed mothers expressed their frustration with males who did not indicate more explicitly `` what it is they really want from a girl so one can act accordingly '' .
They were disappointed by the physical and emotional hurt of premarital sexual intercourse .
They condemned the movie script writers for implying that sex was enjoyable and exhilarating .
They criticized parents for never having emphasized traditional concepts of right and wrong ; ;
and they censured parents who `` never disciplined and were too permissive '' or who `` never explained how easy it was to get pregnant '' .
In the adult world , there are a number of rather general and diffuse sources of ideological diffusion that further compound the adolescent's search for meaning during this particular identity crisis .
For example , some contemporary writing tends to fuse the `` good guys '' and the `` bad guys '' , to portray the weak people as heroes and weakness as a virtue , and to explain ( or even justify ) asocial behavior by attributing it to deterministic psychological , familial , and social experiences .