In this article we will discuss about the nature and types of mental conflicts.
Mental Conflict-Its Nature:
We have already seen that frustration involves an obstacle which may not be easily overcome. This may result in a sense of defeat as well as feelings of stress and strain. This implies a conflict between a drive, and an obstacle. There may be two more opposing desires or motives present in an individual. Each one is clamoring for satisfaction.
The individual cannot decide as to which be satisfied. A state of tension follows. This inner state of mind characterised by tension as a result of the presence, “at the same time of mutually exclusive or opposing tendencies, impulses, or desires, is described as “mental conflict”.
The state of tension makes it difficult for the individual to choose or to make a decision. He hesitates or vacillates between two or three courses of action. Sometimes he cannot decide at all. He is completely blocked. Generally, the state of tension for indecision is followed by a course of action. The conflict is present as long as the individuals does not decide or as long as he wavers. Thus it is the state of tension or indecision occurring before a course of action is decided upon.
Types of Conflicts:
Conflicts are of different types. There may be a conflict between person and person, between a person and his environment or within the person himself. We have already mentioned about these types of conflicts in the section on frustration. A detailed discussion, however, of the conflict within a person, will be pertinent.
The conflict within a person, which is one of the causes of frustration, is a conflict of motives, desires and impulses. According to mental hygienists and psycho-analysis, the internal conflict within an individual is more dangerous than the external conflict.
Lewin describes three classes of internal conflict:
(i) The first type of internal conflict is one in which two goals are desired at once, but in which simultaneous attainment of the two is impossible. For example, a student teacher may have a desire to witness a drama in the evening and at the same time, may like to go to the pictures. Or, a student may be caught between two beliefs. He may believe, on one hand, that the universe is being controlled by mind and spirit and, on the other hand, may think that the universe is controlled by mechanical processes. One belief opposes the other.
(ii) The second class of internal conflict is illustrated by an individual who wants and does not want or certain object. A boy who has passed the intermediate examination with science wants to join the medical college, but at the same time he does not want to join it. A young lad may both love and hate his father. He may be torn between loyalty and aggression.
(iii) The third type of internal conflict is one in which an individual does not want to do a thing, but is forced to do a thing. There are two negative forces causing it or two things both of which the individual desires to avoid. For example, a school boy hates to work out an assignment, but also dislikes the punishment he would receive if he should not do it. He wants to avoid both the things, if possible.
How Freud has explained the process of the conflict within a person as well as the nature of the endopsychic or unconscious conflict is being described in the following section on psychoanalysis’.