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Dorothy Lee Claims Identity Crisis Necessary to Find Meaning in Life


"In our society, a young person has to go through an identity crisis to recognize himself as an individual," Dorothy Lee, lecturer on Anthropology, said last night. "This is a prerequisite for finding meaning and value in life in our culture."

"When we speak of human worth, we are speaking of something that can only are speaking of something that can only grow if recognized by society," she said. "That is why today's youth doesn't want to settle for being a name on a file card. Youth is constantly asking to be recognised."

Crisis Must Be Individual

Although society must be willing to provide recognition, Mrs. Lee noted, the actual crisis is an individual experience. "A change in values, in human worth, can only come from a true experience. It may come from something read or seen, as well as a face-to-face encounter--but it must be an actual individual experience."

Although such encounters are difficult in a modern, complex society, individual crises do take place. As proof of this, she cited the prevalence of the expression "face up to," which she considered "a sign of active encounter."

There is no doubt, however, that our culture, and especially our scientific attitudes, stifle "humanness." "In my anthropological work I am always over whelmed by the surge of humanness, the depths of humanity that exist, and that I have seen but missed out on because I have been so scientific and so careful."

"In fact," Mrs. Lee said, "I am able to talk about this only because I am losing my humanness--and because I am living in a society that is willing to lose its humanness."

She said that scientific attitudes were responsible for producing the modern ethnographic report, "which tells everything about a primitive culture except its values." These scientific descriptions are fine, she said, but only present a partial idea of what life in the culture is like.

"We get excellent presentations of kinship systems and the morphological structure of society. Rage, grief, and love are not mentioned in these reports."

"We never know what makes primitive people want to live, what the values and meanings of their lives are. The play of emotions is disregarded."

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