Psycho social Perspectives of Frustration in Capitalist Society

Aug 06, 2010 • By • 250 Views

Psycho social Perspectives of  Frustration in Capitalist Society

   With the advancement of human society and global changes the outer environment has become a power full agent, which plays very pivotal role in shaping individual behavior. Environment exposes us in to uncountable stimuli in such a way that an individual always remains dynamic, but with the blend of normality and abnormality. Keeping in view this Psychological phenomenon the normal (adaptive) behavior and abnormal (maladaptive) behavior is not dichotomous. There is sharp line between the two types of behaviors. Sometimes emotional crisis occurs in our life with such intensity that for a while we just cannot cope with the unusual circumstances of life and we behave in a maladaptive way. The science of individual psychology emphasis that some individuals have good potential of maintaining effective and productive behaviour, while other reveals great difficulty in dealing with stress provoking conditions and they become maladaptive /neurotic due to the excessive strains and accumulation of frustration in their life. When individual finds to overcome his frustration at individual level it creates lot of social problems and social un-rest. There are frustrated minds behind each and every disturbance or deviation at group level within the society. Restricted socio-economic opportunities within the society, social injustice, every day deprivations, un-employment etc create lot of frustration within among the individuals which later on affect the progress of the society.

            Technically frustration is a type of stress, which occurs when one's efforts; remains unfulfilled, dissatisfied, either by obstacles, or by absence of appropriate goal. How ‘Frustration' and stresses become dangerous for an individual? In the whole span of life each of us always remains busy to gratify our psychological and biological needs. Our life moves in a circle and in this circle, we satisfy our primary and secondary motives (biological and psychological needs). Literally motivation is the primary activity or fundamental tendency of all the living organisms. Objective of this activity is maintenance and survival and also the actualization of their potentialities. However, life is not so simple. At many occasions we fail to gratify our motives/needs. There are many obstacles, which may interfere our goal directed behavior. These obstacles may be environmental and personal. Whenever this happens we become stressful, feel anxiety and excessive tension emotional or intellectual distress. This state of mind is named as Frustration.  

Reactions to frustration and human behaviour

            It has been observed that any stress beyond a minimal level threatens the well being of the organism. This threat forces the individual to do some things to cope the stress. Organism response is automatic and persistent. During the state of frustration our mental and physical reactions are quite natural which are also necessary for the survival of a person. All living organisms tend to maintain their integrity or "wholeness. There are 3 levels of the organism's response" as following: 

a.         On biological level, there are immunological defence against disease, and damage repair mechanisms.

b.         On psychological and inter personal level there are learned coping patterns and self-defences.

c.         On a socio-cultural level, there are group resources, such as labour unions and law enforcement.

            The failure of coping efforts on any of these levels may seriously impair an individual's adjustment on other level e.g. chronic malfunctioning of psychological ailments- lethargy, depression etc, social unrest and slow progress in the society.

Factors influencing the reaction to frustration

            What is done in response to frustration depends on many factors, as: -

a.         One-s frame of references.

b.         Stress tolerance level of individual.

            c.         Environmental limitations and supports to the individual.

d.         Prior mental set of the individual.

e.         Social demands and expectations.


Emotional reactions in response to frustration

            We may classify the emotional reactions in response to frustration in to three main categories: -

a.         Unthinking emotional reactions.   Include angry aggression help less anxiety, regression, fixation and repression.

b.         Placing the Blame.  Includes rationalization and projection.

c.         Finding a Substitute goal.  Which include sublimation, compensation fantasy and day-dreaming.



 Types of reaction to frustration

The psychologist's further divides these reactions into two main categories, i.e. Task Oriented and Defence Oriented.

  1. Task Oriented reaction to Frustration .

Individual's behaviour inclined towards the task or object, which cause frustration. Task oriented reactions usually reaction usually offer the best chance of resolving the frustration and the stress full situations. Problem is resolved and the person can get on to other activities, but not always. At time in accurate information faulty values and poor judgement can lead to unsuitable and maladaptive reactions and even if we choose well and act with skill, factors beyond our control may tip the balance against us. It may be observed into three main forms, as fol: -


(1)       Attacking the Problem: -   To remove or overcome the obstacles. Observable feature are: -

(a)       Physical assault.

(b)       Learning new skills.

(c)        Patience.

(d)       Passive resistance.

(2)       WithdrawalObservable features as fol: -

(a)       Admitting defeat.

(b)       Apathy (reducing emotional involment).

(c)        Physical withdrawal.

(3)       Compromise.     Observable features of behaviour are as fol: -

(a)       To look for a new solution.

(b)       Change in method of operation.

(c)        Accepting a substitute goal or some time e.g. daydreaming.


b.         Defence Oriented Reaction Pattern.     In this type the behaviour of the individual is away from the task. His faulty judgement and other predispositions of his personality i.e. his genetically make up, his low level of stress tolerance; his learned copying style since his childhood etc. It is further classified as fol: -

 (1)      Psychological Damage Repair Mechanism.   In this reaction individual remain save from hurt and disorganization. Observable feature are: -

(a)       Crying

(b)       Repetitive talking

(c)        Mourning

(2)       Ego – Defence Mechanism.         This mechanism works to relieve tension and anxiety protect from external threat i.e. devaluation, failures and from internal threat i.e. guilt arousing desires or actions.

            In this form of reaction individual behaves in a different ways in different time. All of us generally adopt these reactions in our daily life one's behaviour pattern may be as fol: -

(a)       Denial.           To screen out disagreeable realities, by ignoring and refusing.

(b)       Fantasy.        To achieve goals, to fortify need in imagination, conquering hero, suffering hero.

(c)       Repression. Painful thoughts are excluded from consciousness.

(d)       Rationalization.       To justify maladaptive behaviour by faulty logic.

(e)       Projection.    ‘Sour Grapes'

(f)        Reaction – Formation.      Opposite behaviour to kill the desires.

(g)       Displacement.         Shift of emotion from one person/obj to another one, e.g. shifting of hospitality from boss to wife at home.

Social Un-Rest as a Result of Frustration

            When individual finds to overcome his frustration at individual level in a unhealthy way, it creates lot of social problems and threat to the organization from which he belongs to. There are frustrated minds behind each and every disturbance or deviation at group level within the society. In our society restricted socio-economic opportunities, social injustice, every day deprivations, un-employment etc. Create lot of frustration within the country. People think that they don't have sufficient resources to gratify their basic needs and many others secondary motives, for which, they may be quite capable at personal level, but they remain deprived just because of social injustice. They feel distress, anger and helplessness at many occasions when over they fail to gratify their motives in their daily life. The whole or some part of their frustration is repressed, it accumulated and when it reaches at its peak it directs the individuals' behaviour in many ways at group level which cause the social disintegration. Particularly the repressed accumulated frustration and anger are the cause of sudden outburst anti social and criminal activities and extremism/radicalism.  Other  un-desirable behaviour can be observed at different level of social un-rest with in the community. Such as following: 

 a.         Threat to the Organizational  goal and society

(1)       Strikes.          When the employs (e.g. Labour in the industry) are not given their basic rights continuously their feelings of deprivation becomes deeper and deeper. As a result their accumulating frustrations make them angry and hostile and consequently they went on strikes for the demand of their rights, e.g. bonus or for incensement of their daily wages. In under developed countries these workers at once become violent and create social unrest come out on roads and damage public and private property.

            (2)       De-motivation for work.    Lethargy   and poor motivation on the     tasks assigned to the employs is also reaction to various type of   frustration in class based society. It is a sort of withdrawal reaction.            Employs loses their sense of achievement as they observe that their work    do not fulfil their basic needs but increase the bank balance of the             employers and make them more wealthy .

b.     Political Violence among the public.        Violence by political activists is     very     common in underdeveloped countries. Such type of violence is a        significance reaction of social frustration. The un-stable economy,        increasing living cost, low income level, all create agitation among the            masses  and they find out the easy outlet of their aggression. This outlet has many forms such as; masses become violent during election    activities or for their demands and some of them are being murdered and injured by the member of opponent party members during their political       campaigns and kidnapping of opponent party workers.   They burn tires       and buses and petrol pumps on their way,   they damage public and           private property e.g. streetlights and shops,   After such type of violence      they become calm and innocent like others in their surroundings.


c.         Ethnic, racial and linguistic riots.           These are different types    of         reactions to the accumulated frustration with in the community. Those            who are unaware of human psychology generally fail to understand the       real causes and give different vague and un-realistic explanations about           the happening of    these riots.

d.         Social Crimes.         Reactions to frustration at community also lead many social crime, If the  masses remain un-organized and lack suitable leadership. It includes, bank robbery, kidnapping for ransom and drug addiction.

f.          Revolutions and Coup.    When social frustration reaches a peak level within the masses, and if they become organized and have a suitable leadership, "REVOLUTION" or "COUP" is the result. French revolution, emergence of socialism in Russia, China and Islamic revolution in Iran are the examples of such revolutions in the world.


 How  frustration among the masses is  channelized

            All nexus of power in any state remain aware and continue calculating the people's reaction as a result of accumulated frustration. For example, when the graph of antisocial activities or social crime reaches beyond a specific level, the state administration becomes alert.  Think tanks in capitalist countries are capable to estimate the degree of masses' reaction quite intelligently. They always remain vigilant and sensitive about the reaction of the masses, particularly if it is against the power holding classes. Many ways and means are being adopted, such as:

  1. People's energies are resolved in various types of non issues relating to country, religion and social factors.
  2.  People are divided into  different ethnic groups, linguistic and sectarian groups, by creating unnecessary conflicts
  3. They are kept busy in cricket matches after every two or three months. These matches develop euphoric feelings with in the minds of a vast majority of masses keeping them busy in so called elections of parliament and local bodies. The most dangerous way to channelize the masses energy is the planned programme to make them addict of dish watching and cable programmes all over the world.


            Frustration is a common feature of our life, which is unavoidable, and also necessary motivating agent, which cause to change our life and spread colours around us. It leads to prosperity and progress. However when not satisfied in a proper way at initial level it create abnormal behaviour, particularly of personality problems personality deviation, antisocial behaviour, and in turn social un-rest. Experts believe that high level of frustration accompanied by the strong feelings of worthlessness may lead to anti social behaviour and in turn social un-rest in the society. Adverse economic conditions, un- democratic political system, and social injustice are some other precipitating factors, which lead to nonconformity/ antisocial behaviour.

About the Author

Farhana Kazmi Farhana Kazmi

Dr.  S. Farhana Kazmi (PhD) is Assistant Professor, in Hazara University Mansehra, NWFP. She completed her doctorate in 2002 from Hazara...

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