Talk:Frustration

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French: frustration

Psychoanalysis

The English term "frustration" came into increasing prominence in certain branches of psychoanalytic theory in the 1950s, together with a shift in emphasis from the Oedipal triangle to the mother-child relation.

Biological Need

In this context, frustration was generally understood as the act whereby the mother denies the child the object which would satisfy one of his biological needs.

To frustrate a child in this way was thought by some analysts to be a major factor in the aetiology of neurosis.

Sigmund Freud

Versagung

"Frustration" is also the term which the Standard Edition uses to translate Freud's term Versagung.

While this term is not extremely prominent in Freud's work, it does form part of his theoretical vocabulary.

At a first glance, indeed, it may appear that Freud discusses frustration in the way described above.

For example he certainly attributes to frustration an impor­tant place in the aetiology of symptoms, stating that "it was a frustration that made the patient ill."[1]

Jacques Lacan

Hence when Lacan argues that the term "frustration" is "quite simply absent from Freud's work,"[2] what he means is that the Freudian concept of Versagung does not correspond to the concept of frustration as described in the above paragraph.

Lacan argues that those who have theorized the concept of frustration in this way have, by deviating from Freud's work, led psychoanalytic theory into a series of impasses.[3]

Thus in the seminar of 1956-7 he seeks a way of reformulating the concept in accordance with the logic of Freudian theory.

"Lack of Object"

Lacan begins by classifying frustration as one of the three types of "lack of object," distinct from both castration and privation.

Demand for Love

Although he concedes that frustration is at the heart of the primary relations between mother and child,[4] he argues that frustration does not concern biological needs but the demand for love.

This is not to say that frustration has nothing to do with a real object capable of satisfying a need (e.g. a breast, or a feeding bottle); on the contrary, such an object is certainly involved, at least at first.[5]

Symbolic Function

However, what is important is that the real function of this object (to satisfy a need, such as hunger) is soon completely overshadowed by its symbolic function, namely, the fact that it functions as a symbol of the mother's love.[6]

The object is thus valued more for being a symbolic gift than for its capacity to satisfy a need.

Legal Order

As a gift, it is inscribed in the symbolic network of laws which regulate the circuit of exchanges, and thus seen as something to which the subject has a legitimate claim.[7]

Frustration, properly speaking, can only occur in the context of this legal order, and thus when the object which the infant demands is not provided, one can only speak of frustration when the infant senses that it has been wronged.[8]

In such a case, when the object is eventually provided, the sense of wrong (of broken promises, of love withheld) persists in the child, who then consoles himself for this by enjoying the sensations which follow the satisfaction of the original need.

Refusal of Love

Thus, far from frustration involving the failure to satisfy a biological need, it often involves precisely the opposite; a biological need is satisfied as a vain attempt to compensate for the true frustration, which is the refusal of love.

Psychoanalytic Treatment

Frustration plays an important role in psychoanalytic treatment.

Freud noted that, to the extent that distressing symptoms disappear as the treat­ment progresses, the patient's motivation to continue the treatment tends to diminish accordingly.

In order, therefore, to avoid the risk of the patient losing motivation altogether and breaking off the treatment prematurely, Freud recommended that the analyst must "re-instate [the patient's suffer­ing] elsewhere in the form of some appreciable privation."[9]

This technical advice is generally known as the rule of abstinence, and implies that the analyst must continually frustrate the patient by refusing to gratify his demands for love.

In this way, "the patient's need and longing should be allowed to persist in her, in order to serve as forces impelling her to do work and to make changes."[10]

Jacques Lacan

While Lacan agrees with Freud that the analyst must not gratify the analysand's demands for love, he argues that this act of frustration is not to be seen as an end in itself.

Rather, frustration must be seen simply as a means to enable the signifiers of previous demands to appear.

"The analyst is he who supports the demand, not, as has been said, to frustrate the subject, but in order to allow the signifiers in which his frustration is bound up to reappear."[11]

The aim of the analyst is, by supporting the analysand's demands in a state of frustration, to go beyond demand and cause the analysand's desire to appear.[12]

Communication

Lacan differs from Freud in the way he theorizes the rule of abstinence.

For Freud, the rule of abstinence primarily concerned the analysand's abstinence from sexual activity; if a patient implores the analyst to make love to her, the analyst must frustrate her by refusing to do so.

While Lacan agrees with this advice, he stresses that there is a much more common demand that the analyst can also frustrate -- the analysand's demand for a reply.

The analysand expects the analyst to follow the rules of everyday conversation.

By refusing to follow these rules -- remaining silent when the analysand asks a question, or taking the analysand's words in a way other than that in which they were intended -- the analyst has a powerful means at his disposal for frustrating the analysand.

Anxiety

There is another way that the analyst frustrates the analysand which Lacan mentions in 1961.

This is the analyst's refusal to give the signal of anxiety to the analysand - -the absence of anxiety in the analyst at all times, even when the analysand demands that the analyst experience anxiety.

Lacan suggests that this may be the most fruitful of all forms of frustration in psychoanalytic treatment.









The word frustration, now in common usage, refers to the state of someone who denies himself, or who is denied, drive satisfaction.

Beginning with "Heredity and Aetiology of the Neuroses" (1896a), a paper written in French, Freud identified sexual frustration as conducive to anxiety neurosis. In "My Views on the Part Played by Sexuality in the Aetiology of Neuroses" (1906a), to refer to frustrated excitation, he used the word "frustrane," a word probably formed from the German verb "frustrieren" (to frustrate), which was in everyday usage. The German language has no equivalent to the substantive form "frustration," which was later used in English and the romance languages to translate "Versagung," the word used by Freud in a slightly different sense from the meaning it then had of renunciation and sometimes refusal to describe frustration. Freud was aware of this difficulty and did not neglect to discuss it.

In his article "Types of Onset of Neurosis" (1912c), Freud used the word "frustration" (Versagung) for the first time to describe both internal and external factors that cause neurosis. He wrote, "Psycho-analysis has warned us that we must give up the unfruitful contrast between external and internal factors, between experience and constitution, and has taught us that we shall invariably find the cause of the onset of neurotic illness in a particular psychical situation which can be brought about in a variety of ways" (p. 238). In essential particulars he continued to hold this view, going on to write, for example, about a narcissistic form of frustration.

The concept of frustration seems to cover the idea of privation, while sometimes going beyond it. Freud was aware of a conceptual difficulty here, and he attributed its resolution to psychoanalysis rather to the innate genius of the German language. In The Future of an Illusion (1927c), he wrote, "For the sake of a uniform terminology we will describe the fact that an instinct cannot be satisfied as a 'frustration,' the regulation by which this frustration is established as a 'prohibition' and the condition which is produced by the prohibition as a 'privation' " (p. 10). Later in this work he specified the drive urges subject to frustration, prohibition, and privation: incestuous, murderous, and cannibalistic wishes.

In the view of English-language authors, Melanie Klein in particular, frustration incites the reality principle and modulates psychic functioning. "Neurotic children do not tolerate reality well, because they cannot tolerate frustrations. They protect themselves from reality by denying it. What is fundamental and decisive for their future adaptability to reality is their greater or lesser capacity to tolerate those frustrations that arise out of the Oedipus situation" (Klein, 1975, pp. 11-12). Here the feeling of frustration appears to complement the idealizing impulse pointed out by Jean-Michel Petot (1982), who also suggested that the English term "deprivation" was closer to the German Versagung.

The connections made by Freud among frustration, prohibition, and privation form the basis for Lacan's discussion of the connections between castration, privation, and frustration in his seminar on the object relationship (1994). Frustration there appears as an imaginary formation caused by the symbolic mother but related to the real breast; it prevents the subject from entering the symbolic dialectic of giving and exchange. Lacan writes, "Frustration essentially belongs to the realm of protest. It relates to something that is desired and not possessed but that is desired without reference to any possibility of gratification or acquisition. Frustration itself constitutes the realm of unbridled and lawless demands. This core of the concept of frustration as such is one of the categories of lack and an imaginary damnation. It exists at the imaginary level." And later, "The early experience of frustration is only of importance and interest insofar as it leads to one or other of the two levels that I have set out for you—castration or privation. In truth, castration is simply that which accords frustration its true place, transcending it and establishing it within a law that gives it another meaning."

Frustration for Lacan is nonetheless more than a mode of object relationship; it extends from an object relationship to the very organization of speech and the ego. There is an inherent frustration in the discourse of the subject, and the feeling of frustration is a basic characteristic of the ego (Lacan, 1994). These propositions can be connected with Kleinian theories of the genesis and organization of the psychic apparatus.

It should be mentioned that on two occasions Lacan made Freud's use of the term frustration unnecessarily problematic. He asserted that it was of marginal importance in Freud's thought, whereas in fact it is central to his thought and Lacan himself deploys it as such (1994 [1956-1957]). Ten years later, far from correcting this viewpoint, he went so far as to assert that there was not the slightest trace of the term frustration to be found in Freud's works (1966). Lacan's persistent slip suggests that the expansion of the concept of frustration in psychoanalysis is the result of a misunderstanding or a translation error not only among German and English and the romance languages but above all between psychoanalysis and psychology, which at the time essentially based its observations, experiments, and theories on the conflict between frustration and gratification.

More

Frustration is generally understood as the act whereby the mother denies the child the object which would satisfy its biological needs.

Freud attributes to frustration an important place in the aetiology of symptoms, stating that "it was a frustration that made the patient ill."[13]



LACAN AND FRUSTRATION

Lacan classifies frustration as one of three types of "lack of object," distinct from both castration and privation.

Lacan argues that frustration is at the heart of the dual relation between the mother ad child.[14]

Lacan argues that frustration does not concern biological needs but the demand for love.

The function of an object (to satisfy a need, such as hunger) (e.g. a breast) is soon completely overshadowed by its symbolic function, namely, the fact that it functions as a symbol of the mother's love.[15]

The object is thus valued more for being a symbolic gift than for its capacity to satisfy a need.

As a gift, it is inscribed in the [[symbolic[[[ network of laws which regulate the circulate of exchanges, and thus seen as something to which the subject has a legitimate claim.[16]

Frustration, properly speaking, can only occur in the context of this legal order, and thus whne the object which the infant demands is not provided, one can only speak of frustration when the infant senses that it has been wronged.[17]

In such a case, when the object is eventually provided, the sense of wrong persists in the child, who then consoles himself for this by enjoying the sensations which follow the satisfaction of the original need.

(Thus, far from frustration involving the failure to satisfy a biological need, it often involves precisely the opposite; a biological need is satisfied as a vain attempt to compensate for the true frustration, which is the refusal of love.)

FRUSTRATION AND PSYCHOANALYTIC TREATMENT

Frustration plays an important role in psychoanalytic treatment.

Freud noted that, to the extent that distressing symptoms disappear as the treatment progresses, the patient's motivation to continue the treatment tends to diminish accordingly.

In order, therefore, to avoid the risk of the patient losing motivation altogether and breaking off the treatment prematurely, Freud recommended that the analyst must "re-instate [the patient's suffering] elsewhere in the form of some appreciable privation."[18]


See Also

References

  1. Freud, Sigmund. "Lines of Advance in Psycho-Analytic Therapy," 1919a [1918]. SE XVII, 162.
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p.235
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 180
  4. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 66
  5. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.66
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.180-2
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 101
  8. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p. 101
  9. Freud, Sigmund. "Lines of Advance in Psycho-Analytic Therapy," 1919a [1918]. SE XVII, 163.
  10. Freud, Sigmund. "Observations on Transference Love," 1915a. SE XII, 165
  11. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 255
  12. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 276
  13. Freud. 1919a. SE XVII. p.162
  14. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.66
  15. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.180-2
  16. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.101
  17. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.101
  18. Freud. 1919a. SE XVI. p.163
  • Freud, Sigmund. (1896a). Heredity and the aetiology of the neuroses. SE, 3: 141-156.
  • ——. (1906a [1905]). My views on the part played by sexuality in the aetiology of the neuroses. SE, 7: 269-279.
  • ——. (1912c). Types of onset of neurosis. SE, 12: 227-238.
  • ——. (1927c). The future of an illusion. SE, 21: 1-56.
  • Lacan, Jacques. (1966).Écrits. Paris: Seuil.
  • ——. (1977).Écrits: A selection (Alan Sheridan, Trans.). New York: Norton.
  • ——. (1994). Le seminaire. Book 4: La relation d'objet (1956-1957). Paris: Seuil.