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The identity-based motivation theory proposes that individuals are motivated by the disjunction between their “present self” and their psychologically-constructed “future self.” While the author concedes to the underlying assumption that humans continually construct their identities over time and how they envision themselves in some projected future is valid, it is argued that an approach grounded in the psychoanalytical notion of anxiety proposed by Jacques Lacan can significantly add to our understanding of how L2 learners construct and manage their L2 and L1 identities. Data in this presentation is taken from learner narratives as well as from literary fiction.