Read this essay to learn about Human Frustration. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Concept of Human Frustration 2. Definition of Human Frustration 3. Development 4. Sources 5. Roles 6. Maladoptive Consequences 7. Necessity of Frustration Tolerance in Human Life 8. Conclusion.
- Concept of Human Frustration
- Definition of Human Frustration
- Development of Human Frustration
- Sources of Human Frustration
- Roles of Human Frustration
- Maladaptive Consequences of Human Frustration
- Necessity of Frustration Tolerance in Human Life
- Conclusion of Human Frustration
Essay # 1. Concept of Human Frustration:
In-spite of the amenities of civilization and all-round development in every sphere of human life, life is not and had never been a bed of roses. In a remarkably complex and complicated world of today, the organism is constantly subjected to a rich varieties of needs and demands from the moment of birth.
According to Otto Rank the process of birth brings the greatest frustration in human life. The never ending frustration of life undoubtedly starts with birth cry. Rank (1932) views that for the first time frustration is experienced by the new born baby through the process of birth and therein.
Frustration is a key concept of both academic and clinical psychology. As a matter of fact, everybody is subjected to some amount of frustration during his life time. Frustration is not something which occurs rarely and it should never be considered a sign of misfortune. Life comprises a series of needs and activities directed towards meeting them.
According to Alexander Franz (1950) pleasure is dependent on previous displeasure and that gratification without some antecedent frustration is hardly conceivable. Therefore, frustration should be accepted as a usual course in life and it is unavoidable and inevitable.
A man has lost his way in the woods and the water supply runs out. He is feeling hungry. But there is no food to eat and satisfy his hunger and so he is frustrated. As his hunger becomes acute and is intensified, the degree of frustration increases and the need becomes stronger and stronger, but there is no means to satisfy the need.
The most common example of frustration given by Miller and Dollard (1939) is the case of James, a boy who wanted to eat an ice cream in a hot afternoon, but was prevented from eating it. Such an interference with an occurrence of instigated goal response is called frustration.
A person who fails to marry his sweet heart or when a sex pervert is obstructed while going to rape a small girl, experiences severe frustration due to the inability to reach the goal or need because of some interference or obstruction. A baby’s ball has gone over the garden of a neighbour and is out of reach of the baby. The fence acts as a barrier which frustrates the baby’s effort to get back the possession of the ball.
Thus, by and large, when the goal oriented behaviour suffers interference or blocking it leads to frustration. In other words, when satisfaction of an existing need is blocked or obstructed or interfered with, there is frustration.
Essay # 2. Definition of Human Frustration:
Frustration may be defined as the blocking or interference of the satisfaction of an aroused need through some barrier or obstruction. The blocking of the achievement of an anticipated goal may not be caused by an actual barrier, but by an event which acts as a signal that an obstruction may be anticipated.
For instance, the very signal of the mother’s angry mood may serve as a frustrating agent instead of the actual barrier of denying to give money for the ice cream.
Miller and Dollard (1939) have defined frustration as that condition which exists when a goal response suffers interference. Symonds (1949) views frustration as the blocking and interference of the satisfaction of an aroused need through some barrier or obstruction.
He further clarifies his statement by adding that “there may be frustration at any stage of progress towards a goal, each stage being hierarchically related to the other.” If there is frustration at any of the intermediary stages, the ultimate is also frustrated. The baby for instance wants to be caressed by his mother. But he is not able to find her.
Shaffer has defined frustration from a different angle. According to him frustration is a situation in which the accustomed reactions do not bring satisfactions. In his opinion, frustration occurs only when the individual’s store of acquired learning is inadequate to meet the demands of the situation at hand and especially when the conditions for attaining the satisfactions are missing.
It is evident from this definition that a situation to which an individual can readily adjust can never induce frustration. Shaffer therefore differs from Miller, Dollard and Symonds in his approach regarding the meaning of frustration.
Maier (1970) has defined frustration as a situation where learning is stopped and other forms of adjustments are adopted. Maier’s view is thus paradoxical to Shaffer in that he holds frustration where adjustment is evident. Maier also differs from Miller, Dollard and others of the Yale group in that frustration instigated behaviour are not goal oriented.
Maier (1970) illustrates his viewpoint in his book “Frustration” by an interesting example: ” …when a frustrated person strikes the opponent, he is not doing so to remove the obstacle or to injure someone he is striking because he is frustrated.”
Jones introduces another variation in defining frustration when he stipulates that “in frustration the blocking must be caused by some outside force.” But Symonds and others have criticised this definition by arguing that this definition is an unnecessary limitation to the meaning of frustration. It is self explanatory that frustration can be caused by internal barrier and obstructions in the outside environment.
Maslow, Mitterman and Homey analyse frustration from psychoanalytic angle. They state that frustration involves a threat to personality, i.e., “Lowering the self esteem or an injury to the feeling of security.” The mere blocking of a simple desire may create a weak frustration provided it does not affect the feeling of security or prestige in any way.
But frustration is enhanced when the reverse is the case. For instance, when loss of breast milk is perceived as loss of love and loss of security of the child, it induces terrible and intolerable frustration.
Doob (1939) highlights the distinction pointed out by Maslow and associates very subtly by the above example, which is classic in Freudian Psychology. To add to this, Doob says that when a slap in the face is taken as an insult, it creates undoubtedly frustration and anger.
But when the slap is given with different meaning and if it is interpreted also differently by the person who gets the slap, instead of being resented, it will be highly gratifying.
Zander has defined frustration as “that condition which exists when a response towards a goal believed important and attainable by a given person suffers interference resulting in a change in behaviour characteristics for that person and situation.”
Zander adds to the common meaning of frustration by saying that the individual shall be actively striving to reach a goal which is important to him and which he believes attainable. He emphasises that a situation cannot be frustrating unless it is in the field of aspiration of the individual.
When Alexander (1950) says that frustration with hope is a constructive factor in life and without hope it is destructive, he recognizes the possibility of being frustrated by the impossible.
Rosenzweig (1934), one of the important proponents of the frustration theory and famous for his ‘Picture Frustration study’, defines frustration as “Whenever the organism meets a more or less insurmountable obstacle or obstruction, in its route to the satisfaction of any vital need, it is called frustration. These obstacles may either be internal or external, passive or active.”
In his ‘Outline of Frustration Theory’ Rosenzweig advances the notion that reactions to frustration may be classified as extra-punitive, intra-punitive and in-punitive depending upon the economy of the need frustrated. He divided frustration into primary and secondary.
Primary frustration according to him involves the sheer existence of an active need characterized by tension and subjective dissatisfaction. Secondary frustration is caused by obstructions in the path to the goal of the active need. A hungry individual would experience secondary frustration if he is prevented from reaching his meal by the breakdown of his car.
Underwood has attempted to study frustration from the motivational point of view. According to him “the study of frustration is an elaboration of the study of motivation since it is concerned with behaviour resulting from failure to satisfy the need.
He thus defines frustration as “that which leads to the deviant behaviour which is observed as a result of blocking or interference with the goal directed behaviour sequence.
All these definitions of frustration advanced by the experts in the area except the one by Maier lead one to recognize that it is the condition arising out of blocking or interference of a goal directed behaviour. In other words, frustration is the stage of the organism which exists as a result of interference in the goal directed behaviour and gives rise to a number of substitutive and maladaptive reactions.
Physiological Symptoms of Frustration:
Amount of tension, stiffness and rigidity shown in the posture determines the degree of frustration. Frustration in accompanied by increased postural tensions in the organism. If past experience is not able to meet the demands of a situation having barriers, the muscle tension might drain themselves into some sort of exploratory or restless activity.
But if the problem is not solved, frustration may lead to chronic stage of tension. Changes in respiration, galvanic skin resistance, pulse rate, muscular tension and E.E.G. waves follow frustration.
Essay # 3. Development of Human Frustration:
As already discussed, the first frustration that any organism meets is during the process of birth and thereafter having lost the warm and comfortable security in the mother’s uterus. Rank has therefore assigned birth trauma as a profound shock to the child both on the physiological and psychological levels.
This shock views Rank, creates a reservoir of anxiety to ponder over for the baby. As pointed out by Charmichael, Rank (1932) states that the child brings anxiety with him into the world, that anxiety which is the result of severe frustration of birth trauma.
Freud (1936) from the psychoanalytic point of view holds quite confidently that the organism at birth emerges from a relatively calm and peaceful environment into an overwhelming situation. The newborn cannot utilize any defence mechanism to protect his ego and hence is tortured with anxiety.
Separation from the mother as well as adjustment with the complex environment along-with breathing, eating etc. make the child frustrated.
Thus, Freud (1936) emphasizes the view that “the biological factors of helplessness bring into being the first situation of danger and create the need to be loved which the human being is destined never to renounce.”
As an infant experiences hunger in the first days of life, both when feeding periods are irregular and when they are regular, this discomfort is reflected on the person who is connected with it. With the feeling of hostility and anguish, the baby cries. Crying of the infant tends to arouse in the mother feelings of pain and sympathy on the one hand and annoyance and irritation on the other.
Under such circumstances, either the mother fondles the baby or gives her a slap and scolds her and this the infant interprets as a direct response to her own bad feelings and she tends to interpret all outer frustrations as being like this rebellious inner feelings.
The psychoanalytic explanation emphasizes the influence of the first five years of life in the development of frustration. Thus Issac (1936) views “knowledge is lacking, understanding has not yet begun, but wants and wishes, fears and angers, love and hate are there from the very beginning.”
In the process of development different degrees of frustrations are imposed on the child specially in the oral, anal and phallic stages by the process of feeding, elimination, nursing, toilet training and taking overall care of the child including socialization process.
The baby is in utter helpless condition at birth and thereafter and his complete dependence upon other members makes him feel in-secured and helpless. When his needs and desires which he cannot fulfill directly are not satisfied by others he suffers a feeling of discomfort, agony and unhappiness.
Frustration develops out of bottle feeding. Studies do indicate that bottle feeding never satisfies or compensates breast feeding. The process of weaning is probably the greatest frustration experienced by the young baby.
“Love for the child being more concrete is the breast, the mother’s milk, the smell, the taste and the warmth of it.” (Char Michael)
But when the supply of breast milk is inadequate or when the baby is not allowed to take breast milk for several reasons, he is separated from the breast, his first loved object and thus experiences frustration and discomfort. Such frustrations have lasting and firm repercussions upon the personality development of the child.
The parental attitude and the way in which they handle the child, determine the amount of frustration the organism has to experience. If the child is let to cry too long and too often, if he is given the impression that he is alone in this world, that he is a burden and an unwanted addition to the family, and hence is likely to be neglected, that his needs would not probably be met, he experiences severe disappointment and anguish which results in anxiety.
Lack of attention or excessive over protection in the early years of life paves the ground for present as well as future frustration.
The child as experience and observation shows in early years of life, actively or passively, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously is subjected to frustration by the parents, the mother in particular. In the developmental process of the child different degrees of frustration are imposed on him specially in the oral, anal or phallic stages by the process of feeding, elimination, toilet training and socialisation etc.
Emotional disturbances arising out of loss of love of the mother, lack of security etc. constantly haunt the child during the process of development. Every child experiences inevitable frustration because of his helplessness and because he pines for something which he does not achieve.
He may feel hungry when it is impossible to feed him, he may like to monopolize the love of the mother which is objected socially and he may like to indulge in certain activities (during the phallic stage) which are not allowed by the parents. He thus feels disappointed, hurt and every stage in the development is inaugurated by frustration leading to a feeling of discomfort.
Thus English and Pearson rightly comment “If a child is brought up in an environment where there is too much of strife, if there is quarrelling between husband and wife and things of this sort … all sends a constant bombardment upon the psychic of the new born child.” And as they grow they feel life is futile and frail, hopeless and miserable.
Faulty child rearing practices, rigid attitude, inflexible thinking, unhappy and pathological home environment, over protection or too much of negligence of the child and uncared for attitude of the parents pave the way for terrific frustration.
Deep gap between level of aspiration and level of achievement also leads to frustration. Over estimation of the abilities of self, higher aspirations developed by parents may lead to failure and frustration.
Furthermore, psychoanalytic evidences justify the statement that the child not merely wants to reign in the heart of his/her parents, but he quite often feels as if they have withdrawn their love for him. The child feels neglected when a newcomer entering into the family monopolizes the mother.
The Oedipus stage and castration anxiety during the phallic stage of psychosexual development add evidence to this. “The child thus feels” says Char Michael, “literally left out in the cold … the life giving love he needs is actually taken away from him.”
The author interestingly remembers an incident after the birth of her second child. When she returned from the nursing home with the baby of 5 days (her second son) and put him on bed nearest to her, where the first child (1 year 6 months) used to sleep earlier, immediately the first son threw a soap case on his little brother and started pinching him.
This is undoubtedly a hostile reaction towards the frustration arising out of the loss of love of the mother. In many cases, the child’s universal cry may be that both the parents are against him which opens the way for privation, destruction and loss when he finds that his love for his mother is shared by his father whom he considered his rival.
When he is scolded, punished or beaten for sleeping in between his father and mother, when he is threatened while playing with his penis, he undergoes tremendous feeling of discomfort and sorrow. Similarly, restriction on the expression of auto eroticism leads to insurmountable frustration. The pleasure is so much marked and the opposition is so strong that the outcome is the experience of severe frustration.
Finally, it becomes a distinct shock, for the child when the response of other persons is not up to his expectations. He is utterly frustrated when he finds to his shock and surprise that there are mean, untrustworthy, deceitful and over ambitious persons who are ruthless in causing him harm and loss. Gap in communication lags behind his desires.
Further, after the preschool age, in the process of physical and mental development of the child, every child encounters severe frustration in play as well as while first entering school. When he has to learn to adjust and adopt himself with the school situation, with his peers and friends, when he has to learn to give and take, many of his previous habits and comforts are to be sacrificed.
To add to this, a sense of responsibility and duty overcomes the child and all these taken together, put him at loss psychologically and physically.
Analysing frustration from a genetic and developmental angle it can be- safely concluded that frustration during childhood may arise from one of the following four sources or a combination of all these four:
(i) Experience of serious painful feeling during birth, feeding and toilet training.
(ii) Dependence upon the mother for satisfaction of needs.
(iii) Need for pleasure and nutrition not satisfied.
(iv) Destruction of emotional comfort because of social restriction and respect of existing value systems.
Finally, when the childhood is left behind and the adulthood responsibility develops, adulthood provides another set of frustrations. The person is constantly and continuously faced by difficulties to be faced and solved. And lastly, he meets many frustrations in connection with his profession, business, aims and aspirations of life.
Ichheiser has pointed out four types of frustration in connection with work:
(a) Frustration of function:
A person may be frustrated because of lack of job satisfaction.
(b) Frustration of conviction:
A physician who works in a hospital where the standard is very low than what he actually wanted to do for people, frustration of conviction occurs.
(c) Frustration of ambition:
A man may find himself in a lower level than he would like to do, i.e., his achievement lags behind his ability and so he experiences frustration.
(d) Frustration of response:
The frustration which arises in conflict over the use of tools or material or in feeling that one’s superior officers are unjust and unfair to him in evaluation and behaviour wise.
Essay # 4. Sources of Human Frustration:
I. External Frustration:
i. Physical Obstacle:
Physical obstacles coming from the environment lead to a wide varieties of frustration of one’s needs and efforts. Major frustrations arise out of the physical environment such as famines, drought, storm and cyclones, fires, injuries, flood, accident, war, death of near and dear ones.
Minor frustrations occur facing some trouble when one is in a hurry, rain when one wants to play an outdoor game, car splashing mud when one is on the way to attend a grand party, or unavailability of ticket for seeing the Asian games.
Similarly, a student may be frustrated because of continuous want of books, a farmer may be frustrated by long continued flood or drought and an economically disadvantaged child may suffer from frustration when there is no food, cloth or shelter for him.
The second type of external frustration is the inadequacy of nourishment linked with the threat of loss of love of parents. This is the most depressing state of the organism having long standing repercussions on the child’s personality.
Thirdly, when the means of satisfaction which were once possessed by the individual are no longer available, frustration arises. When the child loses his best toy for instance, or somebody breaks his most cherished violin, he suffers loss and experiences terrible frustration.
Obstruction from the physical environment is the most commonly experienced frustration. When a child is not able to possess a beautiful toy locked inside the glass almirah, he experiences pangs of frustration.
ii. Social Obstacle:
The checks, regulations, value systems which censor the behaviour of an individual in a society come under social obstacle. Deviation from the social mores and values such as stealing, raping, homosexuality, physical violence etc. gives punishment to the ego. Thus, unable to fulfil such irrational and antisocial desires, the individual meets frustrations.
Similarly, restrictions imposed by the social mores lead to frustration such as postponing of sexual relationship with the beloved until marriage or waiting to marry until one is fixed in a job, objection to marriage in another community etc.
Other major external obstacles, are economic depression, excessive competition and rivalry, lack of opportunity, racial and religious intolerance, rapid social change and general social uncertainty.
All these separately or taken in combination put a great deal of stress and produce feelings of inadequacy, discomfort, isolation, insecurity, anguish and pain. The chances for the occurrence of external frustrations are widespread and extensive such as physical, social, moral and personal.
II. Internal Frustration:
Internal frustration may arise out of any sort of personal limitation such as bodily disfiguration, deformity, lack of intelligence, physical handicap, insufficient ability or lack of social charm. In a competitive society where struggle for power, prestige, recognition, wealth has become the order of the day, the above disqualifications may be the cause of severe frustration.
For instance, an ugly looking, fat person or a person who is physically deformed or burnt, has significant marks of small pox, may have the frustration of being unable to marry a beautiful girl of his choice.
Similarly, illness or injury may make a person misfit for work, for his social intercourse or for other affairs, Adler has emphasized such biological deformities lying at the root of basic frustration, the origin of inferiority being one of them which leads to maladjustment and neuroticism.
Failure due to personal limitations and mistakes are likely to be serious sources of self devaluation and frustration particularly when such failures involve our key motives and purposes.
As for instance, a boy who constantly secures a lower grade in the class due to low intelligence or the one who is always scolded by his teachers and friends since he is dark, fat and ugly to look at and does not therefore receive the desired affection and sympathy from them, are cases of frustration arising out of personal causes.
Similarly the youth who is frustrated in love because his beloved does not love him in return due to his unimpressive personality experiences frustration due to internal factors.
Although frustration has been classified as external and internal, it is probably not wise to divide them by water tight compartments. External frustration may engender internal frustration and vice versa. In reality they are interrelated and interdependent.
Essay # 5. Roles of Human Frustration:
i. Society, Culture and Frustration:
Krech and Crutchfield (1948) state “The role of society and cultural mores in frustration is at times all important in that the very need which a particular culture induces are thwarted by the structures and institutions of that society.”
The importance of social interaction in societies and cultures with relation to the development of frustration is therefore far reaching especially during the early phases of life cycle, because depending upon the differences in interaction one embraces a particular type of personality.
The nature, amount and intensity of frustration by and large, depend upon the type of environment, values and mores, frame of reference of a particular culture in which the organism is brought up. The contributions of Mead and Fromm have thrown sufficient light to justify the importance of culture and society in the development and accumulation of different types of frustration.
One cannot deny though the naked truth that every individual is subjected to frustration, the degree and nature of frustration depends upon the freedom and restrictions imposed by a particular culture.
Mead (1935) highlights this view by comparing the personalities of three different cultures. She noted that though these three tribes Arapesh, Mundugumar and Tchambuli are in the same island of South Pacific Ocean, because of the differences in psychological, social and family environment, child parent relationship, different amount of satisfaction and frustration is experienced.
The children of Arapesh tribe are well fed, affectionately brought up, and all their basic needs are satisfied. They meet frustration rarely and hence are basically peace loving, unaggressive and less troublesome. The Mundugumars on the contrary are highly aggressive, quarrelsome, because their basic needs for food and love are not fulfilled. They are ill fed at mother’s breasts and do not really know what mother’s love is.
Comparison of different cultures by Margaret mead as well as the excellent work of Ruth Benedict (1953) presented in ‘Patterns of culture’ provide sufficient evidence to conclude that society set up social intercourse so that the gap in communication of feelings and emotions creates deep and persistent frustration.
Notable anthropologist Kluckhonn attempts to explain the relationship between culture and frustration by the help of reactive hypotheses. It argues that in different types of cultures restraints of different natures are placed upon children in the process of socialization and thus the severity and degree of frustration depends upon the type of restriction imposed.
Thus, he writes “in every human society there appears to exist a varying amount of free floating aggression.” This view of Kluckhonn is based on the amount of frustration enforced by different cultures.
Following Kluckhonn, Allport views that a person full of complaints and resentments indicates a personality built out of long series of chronic frustrations.
A comparative study of different cultures shows that frustration varies from society to society. Hopi and Arapeshe are the evidence of less frustrating personalities while Rif and Apache stand on the other end of the scale. Thus frustration to some extent can be called to be a function of culture and obviously varies with cultural variation.
ii. Religion and Frustration:
It would not be an exaggeration to hold that religion and frustration are interdependent and interrelated. Frustration turns one to religion and religious values. Mores and codes also help many desires to remain unsatisfied and hence play quite a dominant role in the development of frustration.
Observing the sorrow, pathos and miseries of life many persons including Buddha have remained aloof from the worldly affairs to search for truth and light. Different types of frustrations have indeed attracted people towards religion who have nevertheless become great captains of religion.
Being frustrated in love, marriage and other worldly affairs many people tightly embrace religion for diversion as well as sublimation. Thus we find obviously frustration being mirrored in religion.
In the same way, the scope of frustration is enhanced by religious values, customs and traditions. Religion itself does not allow many pleasures to be fulfilled specially which are typically against its principles. A person cannot marry his sweet heart because society does not permit inter-caste marriage.
People belonging to certain communities are prohibited to enter into Hindu temple because their religion does not permit it. Many more religious customs of this type stand on the way of fulfilment of certain strong needs and desires. Many religious regulations, rituals, and taboos restrict the fulfilment of certain desires and block the avenue for ready satisfaction of needs and demands.
Sometimes we say ‘religion does not permit this and so we have to check this desire or parents instruct the child, “Don’t do this — our custom does not allow this” etc. To sum up, religion is no less an important barrier for the fulfilment of many of our desires and wishes and helps in the acceleration of frustration.
iii. Art, Literature and Frustration:
In his psychoanalytic theory of art and literature, Freud has clearly mentioned that the frustration and disappointment of the artist, the writer or the poet is unconsciously projected in the content of his creation. Either consciously or unconsciously the writer projects his own feelings and personality make up in the various characters.
The optimism or pessimism revealed in the writing of a poet or in the art of an artist clearly reveals the type of personality make up of the creator.
By analysing the art and literature thus the frustration of an individual can be unravelled. Just as dream is said to be the royal road to unconscious, art and literature is the royal road to frustration. Those who are frustrated in life, their creation suggests a pessimistic approach towards life. Shelley and Tennyson are only a few to quote.
iv. Role of Frustration in Personality Development:
Frustration experienced during infancy and in later life becomes an important determining factor for the type of personality make up of the individual in question. When an infant reacts to interference, blocking and shocks, a pattern is set in his personality throughout his life.
In a classic experiment Wolf temporarily deprived the rats the use of their eyes and ears during infancy. Deprivation during infancy handicapped these rats throughout life.
Following the views of Freudian psychologists it can be opined that early development of personality depends upon feeding, elimination, toilet habits and the way in which the child is reared and brought up and cared for.
In the process of socialization, while teaching the dos and don’ts of life and during the oral, anal and phallic stages of the psychosexual development, the child consciously or unconsciously meets a large number of frustrations.
A child who is frustrated usually in relation to feeding retaliates by attempting to bite. While longing for pleasurable union with the source of food, the child may yet in moments of frustration wish to destroy it. Extremely rigid and strictly disciplinarian parents make their child face a number of frustrations during childhood.
Such constant and continued frustrations spoil the personality of the individual by making him react to any minor frustration and disappointment in a very violent and maladaptive manner; such as by becoming over aggressive, hostile, non-cooperative and antisocial.
Sometimes he tries to withdraw as well as to regress from the reality and makes excessive use of various defence mechanisms. He feels detached, depressed and spends his time in fantasy and day dreaming remaining away from the realities of life. His personality becomes out and out pathological and unhealthy.
Frustration is undoubtedly a necessary condition of mental illness. Freud in this connection has remarked “Frustration is the most immediate, most easily discerned and the most comprehensively exciting cause of the state of neurotic illness… “.
This implies that one cannot be drawn to neuroticism without being frustrated and specially people studying pathological states have found that most of the sexual frustrations are most frequently associated with neurotic states.
The way in which a frustrated person differs in his reactions and adjustments to life with that of a normal one indicates in the long run how important and distinct part frustration plays in the development of human personality.
v. Frustration and Unconscious:
The importance of unconscious which embraces the whole field of Freudian psychology has also been recognized by Freud with regard to the role that it plays in frustration. Freud has made people conscious of the fact as to how unresolved frustrations are carried out for long periods of years consciously or unconsciously from infancy or early childhood.
The author of this article remembers an incident in this connection. When she was about 6 years old, her mother once prepared cake for the family. When the author returned home after play in the evening, she found that no cake was left for her.
This incident did hurt the author terribly and she was deeply upset by the careless attitude of her mother towards her. She somehow had the impression at the moment that the mother did not love her so much as she loved her other children and this very feeling did hurt her terribly.
After this incident, however, the author had never any occasion for even once to have a hitch with her mother. Instead she always respected, loved and appreciated her. Strangely enough after 30 years of this incident she saw a dream that she was trying to kill her own mother by strangling her neck.
This dream she visualized 2 years after her mother’s death. The author connected this dream to the unconscious repressed hostility towards her mother 36 years back.
It is well evident that such unconscious frustrations constantly affect the organism’s psychic life acting as predisposing factor for over-reaction to any minor frustration. Consequently, the reactions to such frustrations are more often than not free floating.
Persons with severe childhood frustrations and particularly those who have accumulated a number of unresolved frustrations in their unconscious mind are sure to respond to fresh frustration less adequately than those who have resolved their frustration satisfactorily. More precisely, one who has taken proper care of his frustration is better adjusted than one who has repressed it to the unconscious.
Perhaps unconscious frustrations are characterized by their feeling of inferiority, over aggressiveness and neuroticism. Unconscious therefore plays a paramount role in the development of frustration as well as in determining the nature of reactions to future frustrations.
vi. Frustration and Self-Devaluation:
Feelings of adequacy, worth and usefulness are the basic psychological needs to exist and continue normally. It is also an integral part of a healthy personality. In other words, in order to maintain psychological harmony and integration one has to feel adequate.
Feeling of inadequacy makes life worthless. It makes one difficult to adjust. It also plays a crucial role in mental abnormality. Any type of mental illness, either minor or major, has some self devaluation attached to it. Especially in depressive patients it plays a vital role.
In a highly competitive society where greater importance is put on success and where there is a lot of gap between aspirations and abilities, the individual meets failure while trying to reach the desired goals.
Moreover, when the goals are set unrealistically high, it is beyond the capacity of the individual to achieve the goal and he feels frustrated. Continuous and successive failures lead to inferiority complex and devaluation of the self. The self concept is lowered.
Usually a number of common frustrations lead to devaluation of self. Most important of them are failure, losses, envious status, unhealthy comparison with others, personal limitations, lack of meaning and un-relatedness etc..
The haunch is, every one meets frustration. But why in some cases there is excessive self-devaluation while others take it as a normal course of life? It all depends upon one’s approach to life and the way of dealing with frustrations.
If one learns to tolerate his frustrations and give a meaningful and sublimated colour to it, if one takes it easily instead of attaching tremendous importance probably there is less chance for self devaluation. The reactions to failure depends upon how one takes it.
If it is considered as a pillar to success and all failures unless they are constantly experienced, if approached in a normal way, will not necessarily lead to self-devaluation.
Essay # 6. Maladaptive Consequences of Human Frustration:
Some of the major Maladaptive consequences of human frustration are listed below:
Freud and many other psychopathologists, have considered aggression as a global, instinctive, steam boiler like force. This is popularly known as death instinct (held by Freud) which he says is urgent and basically inevitable for self preservation and reproduction.
Adler’s theory of aggression stressed as an instinct in its own right, but in no way identical with Freud’s death instinct. Aggression according to Adler is self protection and the affirmation of the self. Freud identifies aggression with an urge to destroy, whereas Adler views it as an urge to dominate and subdue.
Dollard (1939) has described aggression as an elicited drive. According to him a drive is elicited by an external situational condition like frustration, physical pain, loss of face etc. Its arousal ultimately leads to overt forms of aggression against others.
McDougall (1908) has denoted the phenomenon of aggression in the instinct of combat on the basis of the hypothesis first postulated by Freud, Miller, Dollard and others of the Yale group. He regards aggressive impulse as far from being injurious. The Yale group views aggression as always a consequence of frustration of some sort.
In short, it is said to be the primary reaction to frustration. Miller-Dollard (1939) in their book ‘Frustration- Aggression’ hold that ‘It is a common assumption that aggression is always a consequence of frustration.’
Further, they add, “although these reactions may be temporarily compressed, delayed, distinguished, displaced and otherwise defected from their immediate and logical goal, they are not destroyed. It is thus inevitable that aggression follows frustration.”
Sears, Hovland and Miller (1940) define aggression as “an impulse to destroy damage, torment, retaliate, blow up, humiliate, insult, threaten and intimidate”. New Comb (1943) further points out “Frustration always induces motivation of some kind of aggression and if no aggression occurs, it has been inhibited.
” But the view of the Yale group has been challenged by the later psychopathologists who have made modifications in the above view. They view that aggression is a consequence of frustration though, it is not the only consequence.
Morlon (1949) in “A note on the Frustration-Aggression theories of Dollard and his Associates” criticised the theory in the following lines, “The view of Miller, Dollard that frustration leads to some sort of aggression is equal to the fallacy which was popular 20 years back, i.e., if, you suppress sexual urges, a complex will set in and therefore people should let themselves go…….. Perhaps the frustration aggression is roughly equivalent in validity to this view of sex.” Leaving aside such controversies however, no one can deny that aggression is one of the fundamental reactions to frustration though not the only one.
Symonds (1931) has attached four meanings to the term aggression:
(i) Self aggression.
(ii) To gain possession either of a person or an object.
(iii) Hostility and attack or destruction either directly or indirectly turned towards the frustrating agent.
(iv) The act of control and sense of dominance.
According to Symonds “…aggression at the beginning of life is pleasurable and would always remain pleasurable were it not that we are taught otherwise. Deutsh points out that aggression and hostility are inevitable concomitants of the process of growing up.
It is required for survival and for the good things of life. Aggression may be overt or covert, external or internal, suppressed or transferred depending upon the nature of the frustrating situations, strength of barrier or intensity of needs.
Miller and Dollard in this connection hold that “Sometimes aggression is directed at the frustrating agent, at other times, it is transferred to some others who are quite innocent to be blamed. Some forms of aggression are vigorous and undisguised, others are weak, subtle and round about”.
Further aggression may sometimes be suppressed and repressed because of the restrictions and restraints imposed by the society and some other times, it may be directed towards the self.
Rosenzweig (1934) has put forward a substantial classification of different types of aggressive reactions to frustration:
In some responses, he holds aggression is directed to the external environment, say blaming others and this he calls extra-punitive.
When the frustrated person turns his aggressive feelings towards self it is known as intra-punitive response popularly called ‘self aggression’. Here the sufferer may simply blame himself for the frustration. The most dramatic form of self aggression is suicide.
It is the last type of aggressive reaction classified by Rosenzweig where the individual tries to avoid the blame altogether and attempts to switch over the problem. He may release his tension to some extent by reasoning and rationalizing. This classification by Rosenzweig covers more or less different types of aggression as a reaction to frustration.
Sources of Aggression:
Like frustration, aggression may arise out of the physical or psychological environment. Emotional insecurity engendered by loss of love and affection may lead to aggression. Children, who have not been loved and cared for properly, are more likely to react to punishment by retaliatory aggressiveness.
Aggression is a learned form of social behaviour. Like any other form of activity, it is acquired and maintained. In the opinion of Bandura aggressive behaviour is encouraged as people receive or anticipate various forms of reward for performing certain actions and when they do not receive such reward, they are frustrated and show aggressive behaviour.
Further, aggressive behaviour also occurs because of direct instigation by specific social or environmental conditions. The social learning theory of aggression holds that the roots of aggressive behaviour are quite varied in scope involving aggressor’s past experience, learning and various external and situational factors.
Sometimes children arc encouraged and even rewarded by the parents and neighbourhood for certain aggressive behaviour. Similarly Soldiers and Military personnel’s receive award, medals and prestigious titles for killing enemy troops during times of war.
Currently sportsmen and athletes receive wide spread admiration, huge financial rewards, good jobs, social prestige and psychological satisfaction by competing in an aggressive manner.
On the contrary, if a person feels perfectly secured, he will show minimum aggression to frustrating encounters. An over indulgent and over protected child getting excessive love and shelter from the parents, whose behaviour is not restricted or checked may show aggressive behaviour without inhibition.
Such a child fails to develop frustration tolerance and his aggressive reactions take violent form. Sometimes such a child becomes overtly aggressive as he wants to get punishment.
The Captains of industry, the great scholars, politicians, executives who have achieved name and fame may still be struggling with inner feeling of unworthiness and failure, the outcome of which may be anger and hostility.
Aggression therefore occurs when the individual is dethroned from a dominant role with its accompanying frustration, insecurity and feelings of inferiority. And finally a child may show aggressive behaviour because it is the only technique he has learnt to handle frustrating situations.
However, whether frustration increases overt aggression or fails to enhance it depends greatly on two factors:
(a) Frustration enhances aggression only when the frustration is quite internalised.
(b) Aggression may fail to be enhanced when the frustration is moderate or mild.
When the frustration is perceived as legitimate and due or deserving by the person experiencing the frustration it may not facilitate aggression. But aggression is more likely to occur when someone perceives the frustration to be undeserving, arbitrary or illegitimate.
Physical abuse, verbal taunts, attack to the ego, insults are powerful elicitors of aggressive actions. Studies show that even there is a positive correlation between viewing televised violence and aggression. Thus, the more children watch violent serials, tele-Films and Films in T.V. or Cinema, the greater is their level of aggression against others.
Among the other environmental determinants, effects of noise, crowd and air pollution etc. are important. Heightened physiological arousal, vigorous exercise, competitive activity and exposure to provocative films are some of the situational determinants leading to overt aggression. Pain, hormones and drugs also determine ones aggressive behaviour.
It is found that while small doses of alcohol inhibits aggression, large doses facilitate it. There are also evidences to show that increased aggression occurs due to irritable focal lesions, certain forms of epilepsy, particularly tumours in temporal lobe and Psycho motor temporal lobe tumours.
Frontal lobe lesions, abnormal discharges in the medial amy-g dala etc. Animal studies indicate that stimulation of the lateral and medial hypothalamus result in different types of aggression and that the amy-g dala has a critical role in aggression.
However, excessive aggressive outburst is undesirable not only for the person but also for the society.
So it is necessary to prevent and control aggression by the following methods:
Punishment as a deterrent:
The frequency or intensity of aggressive behaviour can be reduced by mild forms of punishment like social disapproval and scolding etc. But punishment may not always be effective. Strong punishment on the other hand may lead to more aggression and produce negative results.
Training to social skills:
People lacking in basic social skills do not know how to communicate effectively and hence adopt a type of aggressive self-expression. Aggression in such people can be reduced by giving training on social skill to such persons. Social skill training has been applied to diverse groups of persons including highly aggressive teen agers, police and even child abusive parents.
Increased interpersonal communication, improved ability to handle rejection and stress etc. have very often led to reduction of aggressive behaviour. It is therefore concluded that training in appropriate social skills can offer a promising approval to the reduction of human violence.
Exposure to signs of pain or discomfort on the part of the victim has been found to inhibit further aggression. Besides, humour, drug treatment and clinical monitoring can be helpful for aggressive persons suffering from Psychiatric disorder.
Society, culture and aggression:
A comparative study of different cultures shows that aggression differs according to the cultural variation. Studies of Mead and Benedict serve powerful evidence in support of this view. People belonging to the Arapesh tribe are calm and quiet, peace loving, cooperative and submissive.
Life is easy for them to pass probably because their frustrations are less and whatever frustrations they have, they have learnt to handle them in nonaggressive ways.
The Mondugamer tribe, on the other hand, is over aggressive, hostile, fierce, war like and uncooperative because they have been frustrated in their basic need for food and love and they also are taught to handle their frustrations in an aggressive manner.
Kluckhonn views that aggressiveness is a matter of depending upon cultural variation and the nature of free floating aggression depends upon this.
Sublimation of aggression:
The reflection of aggression is evident in art and literature. Especially in modern poets we find an angry rejection of the world due to the severe frustration that the individual meets at every stage of life.
These aggressive reactions are sublimated in many artistic creations. Probably many such creations currently reveal the universal cry of aggressions.
Aggression is also sublimated and channelized in adventure, discovery and sports in a socially acceptable way. The climax of aggressiveness is experienced in war. Durbin and Bowllby in their book “Personal Aggressiveness and War” have commented that the raw material of war lies in the aggressiveness of humanity.
Utility of aggressiveness:
Aggression always carries an overtone of disapproval as violence, hostility and dominancy is condemned in every society. But they are tolerated only when they are justified. For example, a sexual pervert, wants to rape a small girl. In defence if the victim kills the antisocial person, her aggressive behaviour may not be condemned by the society.
But nevertheless, a certain amount of admiration with a little disapproval is expressed for the aggressive person, because such a person is said to have self confidence, courage and strength of character.
It may, therefore, be held that the common man shows an ambivalent attitude towards aggressive behaviour ranging from strong condemnation to mild disapproval at one end and from reluctant admiration to powerful fascination at the other end.
Aggression is inevitable. Even children from happy homes show a lot of spontaneous aggression. Aggression is more or less universally experienced and it is a fact that some amount of aggression is required to struggle for existence. Hence one cannot and need not make himself totally immune from aggressive experience.
Nevertheless, extreme form of aggression becomes pathological. It undoubtedly ruins the personality of the individual. When aggression becomes a trait in the personality of such people, it becomes a sort of character disorder and stands on the way of normal and integrated personality development.
In-spite of the negative values of aggression it has some biological importance. McDougall (1926) has emphasised the positive value of aggression with the belief that the custom of going to war among primitive tribes also has its social usefulness.
According to Jackson and Brown (1954) by stressing the destructive, antisocial aspects of aggression, writers like Freud, Adler and Bovet and in a lesser degree even Karen Homey and Suttie had unduly narrowed its meaning. This has been realised lately by some Freudian writers.
Joan Riviere (1937) thus comments “Aggression which is closely allied to hate, is by no means entirely destructive or painful, either in its aims or functioning and love… can be aggressive and even destructive in its operation…. It seems that aggressive impulses are a radical and-basic element in human psychology… we can say in fact that both the self preservative and love instincts need a certain amount of aggression if they are to attain satisfaction, that is, an aggressive element is an essential part of both these instincts in actual functioning.”
It is one of the common reactions to frustration. The concept of regression was first propounded by Freud in relation to Libido theory. According to him regression is a function of two factors, fixation and frustration. Barker, Dembo, and Lewin’s classic experiments also support this view.
Regression is a defence which involves the re-adoption of responses characteristic of an earlier phase of development. When the individual faces severe frustration anxiety and stress, he resortes to a less mature, less realistic and in short childish mode of behaviour.
When a person in order to save himself from the trauma of anxiety reverts to habits previously associated with a period during which he felt more secured, it is called regression. Baby talk, thumb sucking, bed wetting, crying are very common symptoms of regression in adults. In a sense, regression happens to the ego and a poorly organised ego according to Blum (1969) is more vulnerable.
That is why to the same frustrating situation some react with aggression while others with regression. It varies with the differences in family training and fixation in the stages of psychosexual development.
Symonds looks at regression as step taken by the individual in order to avoid meeting and solving some difficult and frustrating problems. It is an escape from reality. Barker, Dembo and Lewin viewed a behaviour to be regressive when “the individual undergoes a kind of primitivation… “His action becomes less mature and more childish.
A scientist frustrated in his search for truth may fall back on the religious beliefs of his youth. Symonds further describes that regression represents a backward step in the development and a returning to older mode of thought and behaviour which were of service at an earlier time.”Thus, a wife who finds it difficult to manage with her ferocious husband may manage him by crying like a child.
Wells views that regression may arise due to failure of energy because of excessive frustration like the last load on the camel’s back. Signs of regression are the tendency to soil, to remain untidy, bitter weeping, crying at failure and the tendency to be treated like a helpless child.
When regression becomes a permanent character in one’s personality, rather than situational, the individual becomes more dependent upon others as well as fails to adjust normally.
Regression being the worst type of defence mechanism, nothing favourable and positive can be told about it. In regression the individual goes back instead of progressing and hence it serves no purpose leaving the problem of present unsettled.
It practically makes the individual pathological. Symonds, however, opines… “as a brief relief from the present problem of everyday life, regression on the other hand is a valuable index”.
Unlike aggression and regression fixation is not a very common reaction to frustration. Experimental studies however show that fixation is also a reaction to frustration. When human beings and animals fail to solve a particular problem they begin to continue the same response regardless of its effectiveness.
As a result, the response to frustration becomes rigid. Due to fixation, usually the individual demonstrates a greater retarded ability to learn in a situation that previously caused frustration.
As viewed by Hamilton, in all human behaviour we usually find a tinge of fixation and persistence somehow and somewhere. New Comb (1950) studied changes in political social attitude in students. Among the students who changed their attitude, 15 per cent had a background of frustration.
According to Blum (1969) various reasons have been advanced for the acquisition of fixation points, such as excessive gratification or over indulgence, excessive deprivation, leading to a continuing demand for gratification, alternating or sudden changes between gratification and deprivation and the simultaneous satisfaction of an impulse and the need for security.
Blum further holds that regression and fixation are said to be complimentary. The stronger the fixation, the more easily will a regression take place under stressful circumstances.
When it becomes impossible for the organism to solve a problematic situation, withdrawal becomes a probable reaction. Thus, he may get away from the situation either psychologically or physically. Sometimes people are found losing interest in things, becoming apathetic, refusing to listen or attend to the problem.
A person frustrated in love for instance may withdraw from the very place whenever he needs his beloved or hears about her. Further, he may also try to withdraw his mind from the very thought about the girl whom he loved most.
On many occasions, people try to meet certain frustrating situations and reduce tension by adding good reasons to their failure. The story of, “grapes are sour” is appropriate here. Similarly, a student who is unable to continue college education may try to reduce his frustration by viewing that college education is nothing but wastage of money and energy.
An individual who has failed in an interview tries to reduce his frustration by saying that he did not actually like that job. This is however a relatively normal reaction to frustration in comparison to aggression and regression.
It is a common reaction to frustration. “Growing out of many frustrating situations” says Symonds, “anxiety serves as a driving force for a large number of subsequent adjustments.” Anxiety may be defined as a mental distress with respect to some anticipated frustration causing a feeling of uneasiness.”
It refers to a subjective experience of the individual, a painful uneasiness of mind.” In addition to this, physiological disturbances like profuse sweating, rapid heart-beat and trembling are common accompaniments.
This anxiety has its origin in birth trauma as held by Rank (1929). Anxiety arises more out of loss of love than lack of love. Rank believes that the process of birth forms a reservoir of anxiety, proportions of which are released throughout life. Separation from the mother is the most critical event in the child’s life.
Psychoanalytic theory explains anxiety due to the overwhelming intense exposure to outside stimulation which the new born baby has no adequate way to handle. Separation from the mother is accompanied by a lot of excitation contrary to the calm and quiet prenatal environment in the womb.
Moderate degrees of anxiety serve adoptive purpose, elevating general arousal to a stale where the person is more alert, sensitive and better prepared to meet the dangers of life.
Research findings of Martin (1961) indicate that anxiety improves performance only to a point. But after reacting a certain intensity it has adverse effects. It disrupts efficient operation of the ego, interferes with perceptual and thinking processes.
Extreme degree of anxiety produces neurotic symptoms and immobilizes the individual in totto. Constructive activity comes to zero point when there is extreme experience of anxiety.
The present author (1969) conducted an investigation entitled “A study of anxiety in men and women college students.” The purpose of the study was to compare the anxiety sources of a group of men and women college students using Sinha’s anxiety scale.
372 students of different undergraduate and postgraduate colleges of Orissa were selected randomly out of which 186 were males and 186 were females. They belonged to the middle S.E. status without any apparent deviation in behaviour.
Sinha’s anxiety scale was administered individually on the sample to assess the difference in anxiety scores of males and females. This scale correlates .73 with the Taylor’s Manifest Anxiety scale. It successfully differentiates a group of psychiotic cases (N = 65) and 293 students (t = 5.06). It also differentiates a student group from a group of 28 students with counseling problem (t = 2.56).
The total anxiety score of the men and women college students were calculated separately and compared with the summary of the scores on the W.A. scale found by Sinha. The tables below show the comparative analysis of the anxiety scores of men and women subjects (Table 3) and the summary of the scores on W.A. scale found by Sinha (Table 4) respectively.
A comparison of findings of present study with that of Sinha’s shows a high degree of similarity which indicates the reliability of the data obtained. Analysis of the findings of the present investigation indicates that the mean anxiety score of women is greater than that of men, the difference being significant beyond 01 level.
The findings of this study conform the results of studies by Smith, Powell and Russ (1955), Sarason, Davidson, Light hall and Waite (1958) who found that females score more on tests of anxiety than males.
Sarason, Davidson, Light Hall and Waite have further speculated that males obtained lower anxiety scores than females because they are more reluctant to admit anxiety. As they stated it, anxiety is ego alien to males and ego synthetic to females.
In other words, the expression of anxiety in case of females may chiefly be due to the suppression of aggressive and sexual desire and the feeling of inferiority caused by un-favourable attitude of our society towards women, in general.
vii. Adjustive Reaction:
When the frustration is very mild or minor, adoptive and substituted responses are generally found. The frequency of substituted responses to frustration varies with the strength of the barrier and strength of the drive.
A person who could not get himself posted in the I.A.S. for which he so much pined, may probably has to be satisfied with an I.P.S. or I.F.S. post. Similarly a child who is debarred from visiting a 70 M.M. Movie may possibly be satisfied with a T.V. Film.
Though there are several possible reactions to frustration which have been discussed here, aggression is the most common reaction to frustration. The variation in the reaction to the frustrating situation varies from individual to individual and culture to culture.
It also depends upon the personality factor of the individual. People also react to different frustrating situations differently because of the variation in sex, age and different socioeconomic conditions.
Essay # 7. Necessity of Frustration Tolerance in Human Life:
The capacity to endure frustration for a long period without making vigorous efforts to reduce the tension through maladaptive ways and unhealthy defence mechanisms is called frustration tolerance. This concept was put forward by Rosenzweig.
Frustration tolerance seems to be a natural consequence of the process of learning (as in case of Pavlov’s dog) through which the child learns to tolerate the delay of immediate frustration. The capacity to tolerate frustration thus develops with age. When there is less than the normal amount of frustration, insufficient frustration tolerance may develop.
When there is more than the normal amount of frustration and when the frustration is quite intense the child does not learn adequate methods of overcoming them, frustration tolerance does not develop. Frustration tolerance also does not develop when learning is insufficient.
A child shows violent reactions and tantrums when one take away the tape recorder from him. It is so because of his inability to tolerate the feeling of dissatisfaction arising out of the loss of a loved object. Adults on the contrary learn to tolerate frustrations and deprivations with the passage of time and through learning and socialization.
He learns in the course of socialization how to tolerate the delays of immediate frustration. If the child meets frustration and at the same time is given optimum amount of security, he learns to be self-sufficient, decisive and is kept in situations that do not overwhelm or terrify him. He gradually but steadily learns to tolerate his frustration patiently.
It is due to the difference in the capacity to tolerate frustration that keeping other factors constant two individuals show varied reactions to the same type of frustration. For example, one may tolerate the loss of his beloved and react in a normal way, while another may take recourse to smoking or alcohol to forget the loss.
Similarly, failures in life such as in examination, in profession and in other related areas may be tolerated by some while others may try to resolve it through various maladaptive ways. Frustration tolerance is a necessity of life and one should learn to tolerate at least minor frustrations.
Essay # 8. Conclusion of Human Frustration:
An overall analysis of the development of frustration and factors contributing it shows that no matter how carefully the child is reared, socialized, trained, he is definitely subjected to some degree of frustration as it is not possible to fulfil all his needs and demands.
However, the load of frustration can be decreased by planned and healthy family atmosphere, flexible and democratic attitude, optimum love and affection and security to the child, fulfilment of needs and desires keeping in view the value system and social restrictions.