The experience of heroic figures in young women of dirrerent identity statuses
In this research study, the experience of having a heroic figure and associations with identity status are explored. Seven young women in Grade 12 were interviewed using a semi-structured, open-ended interview regarding their experience of having a heroic figure. This was followed by each participant being interviewed using the Clinical Identity Interview as developed by Marcia (1966) and adapted by Josselson (1987). Each heroic figure interview was analyzed using hermeneutic analysis,
... the isolation of meaning units (Giorgi, 1975) with the discovery of inherent themes. Five super ordinate themes and five subordinate themes which revolved around the roles played by the heroic figures in the lives of the participants were reported and discussed. The identity interviews were analyzed by an experienced independent researcher. Participants were assigned primary and secondary identity statuses and associations between identity status of participants and the functions of the heroic figure as experienced by participants were made. The results of this study provide support for the research which shows that women form their identity in connection with others, and often within the context of relationships. They also suggest that there is some association between the role the heroic figure plays in the life of the participant and the identity status of the participant. Heroic figures in this study helped young women work through crisis and explore alternatives and options, while also providing a safe place and a sense of belonging and connection to those young women who were only beginning their exploration.