|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews|100 Things Guys Need to Know3 NBS of Julian DrewA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainAdolescent DepressionAfterAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAmelia RulesAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsArtemis FowlAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBeyond Diversity DayBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBill HensonBipolar DisordersBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoyBoysBrandedBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingCan't Eat, Won't EatCatalystChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinContentious IssuesCrackedCutDancing in My NuddypantsDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDoing ItDoing SchoolDying to Be ThinEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismElijah's CupEllison the ElephantEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEvery Girl Tells a StoryFast GirlsFeather BoyFiregirlForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillGeography ClubGeorgia Under WaterGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlsourceGirlWiseGLBTQGood GirlsGoodbye RuneGranny Torrelli Makes SoupGrowing Up GirlHandbook for BoysHealing ADDHeartbeatHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHollow KidsHow Children Learn the Meanings of WordsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHug MeIntrusive ParentingIt's Me!It's Perfectly NormalJake RileyJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKeeping the MoonKilling MonstersKim: Empty InsideKnocked Out by My Nunga-NungasLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLearning About School ViolenceLeo the Lightning BugLet Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLittle ChicagoLord of the FliesLoserLove and SexLove That DogManicMastering Anger and AggressionMind FieldsMiss American PieMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MonsterMore Than a LabelMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNo Two AlikeNot Much Just Chillin'Odd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustOvercoming School AnxietyParenting and the Child's WorldParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeriod PiecesPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellPretty in PunkPrincess in the SpotlightProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Psychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsRaising a Self-StarterRaising BlazeRaising Resilient ChildrenReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRineke DijkstraRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRunning on RitalinSay YesSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceShooterShort PeopleShould I Medicate My Child?Skin GameSmackSmashedStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStoner & SpazStop Arguing with Your KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrong, Smart, & BoldStudent DepressionSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTargeting AutismTeaching Problems and the Problems of TeachingTeen Angst? NaaahThat SummerThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Arctic IncidentThe Bipolar ChildThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Carnivorous CarnivalThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Eternity CubeThe Explosive ChildThe Field of the DogsThe First IdeaThe Identity TrapThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little TernThe Mean Girl MotiveThe Men They Will BecomeThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Nurture AssumptionThe Opposite of InvisibleThe Order of the Poison OakThe Other ParentThe Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Shared HeartThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Thought that CountsThe Unhappy ChildThe Vile VillageThe Whole ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreacherous LoveTrue BelieverTwistedUnhappy TeenagersWay to Be!We're Not MonstersWhat about the KidsWhat Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhen Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhere The Kissing Never StopsWhose America?Why Are You So Sad?WinnicottWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!You Hear MeYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
by Joseph Nowinski
American Management Association, 2007
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H. on Jun 24th 2008
The Identity Trap, at its heart, is a book about parenting, teenagers, and identity development. The author, Joseph Nowinski, is an Associate Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, with a deep reservoir of professional experience counseling teenagers and their parents spanning over twenty years. As contemplated by Nowinski, as a teenager's "identity" takes form, it will mold the ensuing shape of the teenager's attitudes, actions, and expectations. And for some teenagers, the shackles of an emerging identity may have sorely problematic consequences. Nowinski's determined exploration of some of the myriad tributaries of the psychologically turbulent waters of identity uncovers a great abundance of practical advice, penned in easy to understand English, and targeted especially to parents of teenagers ensnared by identity traps.
The book's respective chapters encompass quite distinct structural elements. A "Reality Check" component embodies the text with an expansive source of anecdotal information. Critical readers may admonish that the not inconsiderable tinging of the text with information of an anecdotal nature dilutes its didactic potency. But discerning readers may counter compellingly that the Reality
Check case materials suffusing the textual substance instructively illustrate problems real life teenagers have experienced in the course of developing their identities. And further, that the acumen revealed by Nowinski in evaluating these materials may strengthen the efforts of readers (who are parents of teenagers) struggling to help their children escape from debilitating identity traps and enter adulthood bound tightly to healthy identities.
Another structural tool ("Guiding Your Teen…") wielded with considerable power by Nowinski has the form of identity centric guidelines fleshed out by accompanying commentary. Some of the guidelines proposed by Nowinski are arguably relatively simplistic and generalized in nature; and some may disagree with particular views expressed by Nowinski in the commentaries adding flesh to the bones of the guidelines. But a powerful contrary view is that the information presented may intellectually empower parents of teenagers with a saber to sever identity chains entrapping their children.
At a chapter's end, Nowinski customarily presents questions ("FAQs"), pertinent to concerns parents may confront in the nettlesome realm of identity development in teenagers. Nowinski shows considerable insightfulness in the answers he proposes to such questions (which may incite a multiplicity of expert views).
A relatively limited number of "Exercises" embedded in the text are designed well to intellectually stimulate parents to think in ways that may facilitate the demanding task of helping their children develop a wholesome identity. Critics may caution, however, that answers to exercises of the sort prepared by Nowinski should optimally be evaluated in tandem with a knowledgeable professional.
Numerous "HEADS UP!" fragments inserted into the text pithily offer practical focused counsel to parents of identity challenged teenagers, although some may decry the HEADS UP! advice as being trite in nature.
Substantively, the text overflows refreshingly with pleasingly helpful comment joined to the subject area of parenting, teenagers, and identity development.
In Chapter Two, Nowinski expounds on the necessity of appropriately balancing an understanding of a child's past with wise appreciation of the great importance of a child's present and future.
Perspicacious examination of the identity trap of alienation is the crux of Chapter Three. As explicated by Nowinski, an alienated youth may develop an identity as an "outsider", which may plant the seeds of self destructiveness.
The concept of transparent parenting absorbs the close interest of Nowinski, in Chapter Four. As conceptualized by Nowinski, being a "transparent" parent means exposing your child to a window openly showing the child how your own identity was formed.
The focus of Chapter Five is sharply on the problematic issue of how parents properly should communicate with combative teenagers.
As is his wont, Nowinski in particular relation to this issue endeavors to inform parents sagely.
The tapestry of Chapter Six is interwoven artfully with commentary showing how parents can help a teenager develop a "resilient" identity (in contradistinction to a "fragile" identity).
The intellectually penetrating gaze of Nowinski reaches, in Chapter Seven, to the relationship entwining adversity and identity. Nowinski thematically propounds the message that perseverance, in the face of adversity, is a conduit leading to a healthy identity. Congruently, Nowinski warns that parents who with good, if naïve, intentions seek to shield their children from adversity may unwittingly foster fragile identities.
Drawing center stage attention, in Chapter Eight, is parental setting and enforcing of reasonable limits affecting teenagers. Inside this frame, family culture, rituals and traditions garner rapt attention.
Self destructive behavior by teenagers ("cutting"), as pieces often importantly relevant to solving the enigmatic puzzle of a teenager's emerging identity, is the sobering subject of penultimate Chapter Nine.
"Spirituality", especially as it may affect identity development, is the cynosure of concluding Chapter Ten.
A "Guide" presented in question and answer format, and intended to summarize major elements of the book, is appended to the text.
Readers in search of the usual trappings of academic writing may take critical note of the heavy dose of anecdotal matter injected into the textual corpus, a stylistic informality slanted steeply away from academic styled writing, and the dearth of academic references.
But the virtues of the book vastly exceed any real or imagined deficiencies. The book's intellectually delectable savor should gladden parents of teenagers, teenagers, and other family members of teenagers. The contents of the book likewise should be a great boon to psychologists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians.
© 2008 Leo Uzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare.