After reading this article you will learn about: 1. Introduction to Frustration 2. Development of Frustration 3. Types 4. Sources 5. Role in Personality Development.
- Introduction to Frustration
- Development of Frustration
- Types of Frustration
- Sources of Frustration
- Role of Frustration in Personality Development
1. Introduction to Frustration:
A man has lost his way in the forest. He does not have any food or drinks with him. The water supply runs out. 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 his need.
There is no river or spring nearby from where he can get water. There is no village nearby from where he can get food and water. The feeling of displeasure, the discomfort and tension arising out of interference in the goal directed behaviour, is commonly referred to as frustration.
In the most complex and complicated society of to-day, there are lots of occasions where the needs are many, but the outlets for the satisfaction of these needs are very few. Thus, there is tremendous scope for frustration of any kind, physical, personal, social and psychological.
In the opinion of Otto Rank (1932) the process of birth brings the greatest frustration in human life. For the first time frustration is experienced by the new born baby through the process of birth and thereafter. Thus, the never-ending frustration of life undoubtedly starts with birth cry.
It is to be kept in mind that frustration is not something which occurs rarely and it should never be considered as a sign of misfortune. The new born baby has to face various problems from the moment of birth and thereafter life comprises with a series of needs and activities directed towards meeting them. In this process, when the fulfilment of the needs are obstructed, a person feels frustrated.
Man is a social organism. He is born in the society, he lives, grows and dies in the society. During the course of his life, he meets several problems, needs to solve them. He meets various failures in the process and learns from it.
Therefore, frustration should be accepted as an usual course of life and it is inevitable. Miller and Dollard (1939) have given a very classic example of frustration. James wanted to eat an ice-cream in the hot afternoon, but was prevented from eating it.
Such an interference with an occurrence of instigated goal response is called frustration. A man who fails to marry his beloved because of social restriction, is a case of social frustration, frustration-arising out of social restrictions.
Before coming to social frustration in detail, it may he imperative to know what frustration actually is. 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 fulfillment 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 example, the very signal of the mother’s angry mood may save as a frustrating agent instead of actual barrier, like denying to give money for purchasing an ice-cream. According to Symonds, frustration is the blocking and interference of the satisfaction of an aroused need through some barrier or obstruction.
A situation to which a person can readily adjust, can never induce frustration. In frustrating situation learning is usually stopped and there are lots of tension and worry.
Various investigators have opined that frustration can be caused by internal barrier and obstruction in the outside environment. Frustrating experiences acts as a greater hindrance to one’s normal personality development. The state of frustration involves a threat to personality.
The feeling of security is injured, the self esteem is lowered of a frustrated person. In case of a baby, the loss of breast milk when is perceived as loss of love and loss of security of the child, it induces terrible and intolerable frustration.
Various such occasion arise in familial and social life where 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.
A situation whether social or personal becomes frustrating, only when it is in the field of aspiration of the individual. According to Alexander (1950), frustration with hope is a constructive factor in life and without hope it is destructive.
In a society it is just natural for any individual to meet any obstacle at any point of time while trying for the satisfaction of a vital need. These obstacles create frustration which may be internal or external or passive and active.
2. Development of Frustration:
The first frustration that an organism meets is during the process of birth and thereafter having lost the warm and comfortable security of the mother’s womb. Rank has, therefore, viewed that birth trauma gives profound shock to the baby both at the psychological and physiological levels.
This shock creates a reservoir of anxiety for the baby. It is, thus, viewed that the child brings anxiety with him at the time of birth and anxiety also accumulated thereafter.
Freud emphasizes the view that the biological factors of helplessness bring in to being the first situation of danger and create the need to be loved which the human being is destined never to renounce. First five years of life of any individual has a tremendous role in the development of frustration.
Issac (1936), in this connection, views that knowledge is lacking, understanding has not yet begun but wants and wishes, fears and angers, love and hate are ‘here from the very beginning.
In the process of social and personality development, different degrees of frustrations are imposed on the child specially in the oral, anal and phallic stages by the process of feeding, elimination, nurshing, toilet training and taking overall care of the child including the socialization process.
Studies indicate that frustration develops out of bottle feeding and bottle feeding never satisfies and compensates breast feeding. The process of weaning is probably the greatest frustration experienced by the young baby.
Carmichael has indicated the importance of breast feeding by saying, “Love for the child being more concrete is the breast, the mother’s milk, the smell, the taste and the warmth of it”. Frustrations arising out of weaning have lasting and firm repercussions upon the personality development of the child.
The parental attitude, the socialization process, the way they take care of the baby, all these factors interact with each other and determine the amount of frustration the ‘o’ 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, if he is neglected in the fulfillment of basic needs, like food, care and love, he experiences severe disappointment and anguish which results in anxiety. Either lack of attention or excessive overprotection in the early years of life paves the way for present and future frustration.
All these facts and findings go to prove that 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 socialization.
As the child grows in the society, he experiences inevitable frustration because of his helplessness and because he pines for something which he does not achieve. He may be forced to feeding when he is not willing to eat, he may be forced to take soup or some kind of food, which the baby does not somehow like.
He may like to monopolize the love of the mother which is objected socially and he may indulge in some kind of activities which are not allowed by parents and society.
Thus, every stage of his development is inaugurated by some amount of frustration leading to a feeling of discomfort. English and Pearson have, therefore, commented, “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 send a constant bombardment upon the psychic of the new born child.”
Faulty child rearing practices, rigid attitude of the parents and neighbourhood, 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.
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. The child has to sacrifice many of his previous habits and comforts when he has to adjust himself with the school situation with his peers and friends and particularly when he has to learn to give and take in the process of socialization.
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.
In short, 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 frustration. The person is constantly and continuously faced by difficulties to be faced and solved. Finally, he meets many frustrations in connection with his profession, business and aspiration of life.
3. Types of Frustration:
I Chheiser has pointed out four types of frustrations in connection with man’s work.
(i) Frustration of function. A man may be frustrated because of lack of job satisfaction.
(ii) 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.
(iii) 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.
(iv) Frustration of response. The frustration which arises in conflict over the use of tools or material or the feeling that one’s superior officers are unjust and unfair to him in evaluation and behaviour wise.
Factors contributing to the development of frustration show that no matter how carefully the child is reared, socialized and 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 and frustration tolerance power can be increased by planned and healthy family atmosphere, conclusive and judicious social situations, flexible and democratic attitude, optimum love, affection and security to the child, fulfilment of needs and desires, keeping in view the value system and social restrictions. The sources of frustration are many.
The specific situations that give rise to frustration are innumerable but, by and large, they can be brought under four general categories:
(1) Man’s physical environment,
(2) Man’s biological limitations,
(3) The complexity of man’s psychological makeup, and
(4) The nature of man’s social environment.
4. Sources of Frustration:
Though frustration occurs due to several factors, obstruction from various quarters of the society produce severe frustration. The checks, regulations, value systems which censor the behaviour of an individual produce social obstacle, unable to fulfil his desires and wishes because of social restriction, the individual becomes the prey of frustration.
Similarly, restriction imposed by the social moves lead to frustration, such as postponing of sexual relationship the beloved until marriage or waiting to marry until one is fixed in a job, objection to marriage in another community, financial insecurity and hardship due to economic inflation, 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 together put a great deal of stress and produce feelings of inadequacy, discomfort, isolation, insecurity, anguish and pain.
“The social environment among the various sources of frustration is probably the most important source of deep and persistent frustrations and the most significant for social behaviour”. (Kretch and crutch field). It is a fact that society surrounds the individual with all sorts of moves, regulations, rituals and taboos. All these build up gradual barriers on the way of immediate satisfaction of one’s needs and demands.
The social regulations set up economic system which necessitates man to make money for the fulfilment of his needs and demands, but at the same time, makes the acquisition of money a difficult task leading to severe frustration. Society sets up social caste and class systems. This stands on the way of free social mobility.
A member of one class cannot avail the facilities available to another class, because of lack of social locomotion. Thus, his desire to acquire the privileges of another caste or economic class is blocked. The under privileged and socially disadvantaged classes suffer more in this respect.
Kretch and Crutchfield (1948) state that the role of society and cultural moves 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. A need may be created in a person through the social and educational philosophy of the society and then the same need may not be fulfilled because of discrimination or economic constraints.
A poor boy may be motivated for higher studies like engineering and medicine because of the educational or democratic philosophy of the country to give the opportunity to every one for the same irrespective of class and creed. But because of his poor financial condition, he may not be able to fulfil this need. Because of social cultural restrictions many of such needs are thwarted.
These types of needs and demands are blocked and fulfilment interfered because of many complex cultural patterns. The same society and culture which create the needs and motivations in man also obstruct their fulfilment. Certain moral standards are taught to the child in the process of socialization.
But, subsequently, he finds to his utter despair that these moral standards have only hypothetical value. It is quite difficult to implement them practically. Take the example of teaching a child moral values, like honesty, truthfulness and sincerity.
He is taught from the very beginning that lying and insincerity are bad. But what he finds in reality, in practice? Lying and insincerity, though bad, are necessary if one has to live in comfort and peace. Though certain social rituals, customs and traditions are bad, he has to obey them as it is required by the society.
These type of cases create conflict and frustration. The importance of social interaction in societies and cultures in relation to the development of frustration is far reaching especially during the early phases of life cycle, because, depending upon the differences in interaction, one develops a particular type of personality.
The nature, amount and intensity of frustration, by and large, depend upon the type of environment, values and moves, frame of reference of a particular culture in which the organism is brought up. The contributions of Margaret Mead and Erric Fromm have thrown sufficient light to justify the importance of culture and society in the development and accumulation of different types of frustration.
However, though every individual is subjected to frustration, the degree and nature of frustration depends upon the freedom and restrictions imposed by a particular culture-Margaret Mead (1935) highlights this view by comparing the personalities of three different cultures.
She found that though these three tribes, Arapesh. Mundugumor and T- Chambuli are in the same island of South Pacific Ocean, because of the differences in psychological, social and family environment and child parent relationship, different amount of satisfaction and frustration is experienced.
The children of the Arapesh tribe are well fed, affectionately brought up and all their basic needs are satisfied. They meet frustration rarely and hence, arc 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 illfed at mothers breast 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 the book “Patterns of culture” provide sufficient evidence to conclude that society sets up social castes and caste systems prevailing free social intercourse so that the gap in communication of feelings and emotions creates deep and persistent frustration.
Eminent anthropologist Kluckhonn goes to the extent to explain by the reactive hypothesis that in different types of cultures restraints of different natures are placed upon children in the process of socialization.
Thus, the severity and degree of frustration depends upon the type of restraints 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 with loads of complaints and resentments indicates a personality built out of long series of chronic frustrations.
A comparative study of different cultures show that frustration varies from society to society. Hopi and Arapesh are the evidence of less frustrating personalities while Rif and Apache have a place in the other end of the scale. Thus, culture has some roles to play in the building of frustration and hence frustration varies with cultural variation.
Man is a social animal and religion is a part of the social net work. Religious values, customs and traditions of the society enhance the scope of frustration. Religion itself does not allow many pleasures to be fulfilled, specially which are typically against its principles.
A person cannot marry another of different caste or religion because society does not permit it. Similarly, one has to make fasting and Pujas against his will just for the sake of religion. Many religious regulations, rituals and taboos restrict the fulfilment of certain desires and block the avenue for ready satisfaction of needs and demands. Thus, religious customs accelerate frustration.
5. 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 a child reacts to interference, blocking and shocks a patter 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 his life.
Early development of personality feeding elimination, toilet habits and the way in which the child is reared, brought up and cared for. Too rigid or too slack toilet training creates various problems in normal personality development.
In the process of socialization too, while teaching the child the Dos and Don’ts of life and during the oral, anal the phallic stages of 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 may wish to destroy it. Extremely rigid and strict disciplinarian make their child meet a number of frustrations during childhood.
Such constant and continued frustration spoil the personality of the individual by making him react to any minor frustration and disappointment in very maladoptive manner, such as by becoming over aggressive, antisocial, hostile and non-cooperative.
Sometimes he tries to withdraw as well as to regress from the reality and make excessive use of various defense mechanisms. The way in which a frustrated person differs in his activities, 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.