In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Frustration 2. Sources of Frustration 3. Is Frustration Always Undesirable?
Meaning of Frustration:
We human beings are constantly striving to establish a satisfactory relationship with our environment. In other words, we are trying to fulfill our needs in order to live happily and function effectively. But the process of adjustment or of attaining and enjoying mental health is not always easy. Our needs cannot always be adequately satisfied in all situations.
We have to face other people’s attitudes that are hostile-attitudes of criticism, fault-finding, nagging, scolding, scorn and ridicule. As such, it may become difficult for us to develop feelings of security, worth and competence. There are restrictions imposed on us by civilisation. There are social laws and standards.
In other words, there are a variety of barriers or obstacles in the satisfaction of our needs and desires. This results in frustration and mounting of tension. Thus frustration is the thwarting of one’s desires or needs. “It can be defined as the blocking or a desire or a need. It refers to failure to satisfy a basic need because of conditions, either in the individual of external obstacles.” Frustrations or tensions make the frustrated person highly discomfort-able. Not knowing just what to do, he tends to try out all sorts of ways to obtain release from his tensions. Continuous frustrations of our basic needs may lead to serious maladjustments or conditions of mental ill-health.
Sources of Frustration:
Our frustrations may be caused by minor obstacles in our environment. A teacher may feel thwarted if what he has explained has not been understood by his students. Conflicts with other people cause quite a number of our frustrations. Their desires may be contrary to our own or similar but stronger.
Our frustrations may be caused by environmental situations or conditions which we cannot control e.g., a contagious death disease, death of a friend; unusual rains, storms or floods and acute housing shortage. Economic deprivations, social customs, traditions, restrictions and taboos, the realization of our personal deficiencies such as limited intelligence, sensory defects, physical illnesses or weakness, may produce a sense of frustration in us.
Another source of frustration is a conflict of motives within the individual. The mind is divided against itself. There are two or three positive, each struggling against the other. One may have a desire to spend the evening studying and doing the assignment to please one’s teacher; or one may want to go to the pictures in order to enjoy the company of a friend.
If these desires are equally strong, decision becomes difficult. There is a conflict, and the solution lies only in thwarting one of these desires. Sometimes the conflict is between our sociogenic motives and our attitudes or sentiments which the individual has acquired as a result of the process of socialisation or education.
Is Frustration Always Undesirable?
It is true that long, continued frustrations are not desirable. They create tensions that cannot be easily relieved, and as such, may be responsible for serious personality deviations. But frustration is a necessary experience in the life of every child and adult. It is not to be regretted because it is necessary accompaniment of the process of growing up.
Much of our learning takes place at the instigation of frustration. Symonds says that ‘a child will explore and gain knowledge of the external world only at the behest of frustration’. Hence, he advises, that children should not be protected from all frustration. “It is a good thing for children to face certain difficulties with challenge their effort, but which are not so severer as to lead to discouragement”.
What Symonds says about children is true of adults also. Frustrations, to a certain degree, can be responsible for works of productivity and creativity such as great stories, poems, novels, paintings and sculptures. We may make greater efforts and strive in other directions if we are frustrated.
The fact is that frustration may not be so dissipating in its results, if we train ourselves to develop a high level of frustration tolerance – the ability to endure frustration over a period of time. This ability enables us to meet frustrating situations without being seriously disturbed or disorganised in our behaviour or personality. Of course the ability to tolerate frustration depends, to a great extent, on the presence of feelings of security and personal worth which have been developed in childhood.
We can save ourselves from the painfulness of thwarting many a time if do the following:
(a) Review the situation again.
(b) Change our goals or modify our desires.
(c) Substitute our goals by others, which are equally satisfying, but are different and obtainable.