June 11, 2024
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Living a Life of Both Multiplicity and Uniformity

While in the park it was quite noisy with children playing and adults socializing. Children were constantly asking their parents for snacks, help on the swings, or telling on someone for hurting them. The noises however didn’t faze me and not once did I flinch at the sound of the children. In one moment however, I heard a young yet mighty voice screaming “Daddy” and immediately I knew I was being summoned. I had probably heard some reference to Daddy, Dad or Abba throughout, but I knew none of those times was referring to me. When I heard the name from my daughter, I instantly knew I was the one being called.

Human beings are inherently social creatures, and much of our identity is shaped by the roles we occupy within our communities. Titles such as “mother,” “father”, “teacher,” “friend” and “doctor” serve as shorthand for the complex web of responsibilities and relationships that define us. These titles provide a sense of belonging and structure.

Despite the universality of these titles, each person’s experience of each given role is deeply personal. From a relational perspective, while “father” is a common title, the bond between each father and his child is unique, shaped by shared experiences and emotions. From a professional perspective, while a “teacher” might be a nurturing guide to one student, they may be a strict disciplinarian to another.

These variations stem from individual personality traits, values and experiences, which mold how one lives through their given titles. Just because I and many other people in the world could share the titles of being a father, therapist, spouse, son, Jew, etc. does not imply that we are the same at all.

While titles provide a common language for describing our roles and relationships, the individual experiences and personal connections we bring to these roles ensure that each title is uniquely our own. This dynamic interplay underscores the profound complexity of human identity, highlighting how we navigate the balance between commonality and individuality in our everyday lives.

Often in therapy I find people struggling to differentiate between their titles/roles and their identity. In understanding this paradox, we gain deeper insights into the psychological processes that shape our self-concept and social interactions, revealing the intricate ways in which we are both alike and distinct within the shared fabric of our social world. The goal of living a life of multiplicity while also living a life of uniformity is to be able to differentiate between that which we do and that which we are.


Max Kirshblum, LSW, is an EMDR certified psychodynamic psychotherapist with seasoned experience working with teens, adults, and family units and has developed and presented multiple training programs on the topics of domestic violence and sexual abuse for clergy and community education programs. For more information about Max or to schedule an appointment with him, visit www.collaborativeminds.net/max-kirshblum

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