Dis-Identification Exercise

(Yalom, 1980)

You’ve thought about how you are, for a little bit, now let’s consider all those elements of your identity, roles, and expectations on you and what would happen if they were taken away. What is important about your identity and what might you cling to. For example, a man who has been working all his life, may find he has no identity when he retires and that can be traumatic. Or a woman who discovers she is infertile may suddenly discover her identity of being a mother can no longer be.

So, who are you now, and what is important to you in this.

  1. Grab 8 separate cards and write down the answer to the questions ‘Who am I?’ on each one. You could be a ‘father’, ’a sister’, ‘a cleaner’, ‘competent’, ‘artist’, ‘alcoholic’, ‘adulterer’ etc.
  2. Sort them in order of importance to you, and how close you fell that describes you
  3. Now study each card in sequence for three minutes and think what it would be like to give up that attribute.
  4. How does that feel? And what do you feel most concerned about in losing this?
  5. Now take the key items back to you. These are parts of your identity that you want to keep.
  6. What needs to would change in your life for that element to be returned?

List out your eight cards in order, and note your reaction

Who am I? (Description on card) What does it mean to me to lose this identity?
What would I change to take it back?


Who would be a good role model for this identity?