Not “______ Enough”: Exploring Marginal Identity in an Age of Unworthiness 2020

Not “______ Enough”: Exploring Marginal Identity in an Age of Unworthiness with Christina Hampton, MA
Marginal (man) theory is a concept first developed by sociologists Park (1950) and Stonequist (1937) to describe how an individual suspended between two or more cultural identities or groups may struggle to establish their identity. Marginalization can convey the message that “’you don’t belong” and “you are not a person of value” (Lynam & Cowley, 2007). In a binary society, marginalized individuals are struggling to find their place and community. Even among oppressed groups, individuals who “pass” as an individual from a more “privileged” group (e.g. a biracial individual who passes as white) struggle to feel a sense of belonging and that their voices are heard. Phrases and words such as “black-ish,” “straight-passing,” and “man enough” demonstrate the margins between identities and communities.

Tara Brach explains, “Our most fundamental sense of well-being is derived from the conscious experience of belonging. Relatedness is essential to survival” (Mowe, 2015). Unbelonging has been shown to decrease physical and mental health and well-being (Lynam & Cowley, 2007).

This workshop draws from the Internal Family Systems model of psychotherapy, developed by Richard Schwartz. This model suggests that people have all they need to be well and are held back by the polarization of subpersonalities (or “parts”) within themselves (Schwartz, 2001). Hurt parts carry burdens from past adverse experiences or internalized messages from others and society. Protector parts serve to protect the hurt parts however necessary for functioning. In this framework, any burdens carried in hurt parts can go through an “unburdening” process to help release them. Unburdening includes strategies like “befriending,” “witnessing,” and holding compassion for the burdens before releasing them. Once burdens are released, there is a lessened need for protecting parts to protect them, and polarization between the hurt parts and their protectors is mitigated. Participants of all communities in this workshop will be invited to experience the power of the expressive arts firsthand through participating in an experiential activity to explore their own burdens of unworthiness and (un)belonging.


Easterbrook, M., & Vignoles, V. L. (2013). What does it mean to belong? Interpersonal bonds and intragroup similarities as predictors of felt belonging in different types of groups. European Journal of Social Psychology, 6, 455.

Lynam, M. J., & Cowley, S. (2007). Understanding marginalization as a social determinant of health. Critical Public Health, 17(2), 137–149.

Menakem, R. (2017). My grandmother’s hands: Racialized trauma and the pathway to mending our hearts and bodies. Central Recovery Press.

Mowe, S. (2015). Wake up from unworthiness: An interview with Tara Brach. Spirituality & Health Magazine, 62+.

Park, R.E. (1950). Race and Culture. Free Press.

Schwartz, R.C. (2001). Introduction to the internal family systems model. Trailheads Publications.

Stonequist, E.V. (1937). The marginal man: a study in personality and culture conflict. Scribner/Simon & Schuster.

Queen Track
Saturday, March 28, 2020
2:15 – 6PM
3 CEs
Room 104
Presentation #79

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