Search Results for sublimation
A theoretical process outlined in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis where instinctual, antisocial id impulses are redirected toward non-instinctual, symbolic forms of behavior or expression.
This redirection of the id’s antisocial desires apparently depends on a certain degree of ego development, and is usually understood to fall within socially acceptable channels, such as the arts.
When art is displayed and accepted in a public space, either officially (as pictured right) or subversively (as with tolerated graffiti), sublimation can become a social psychological and not just an individual dynamic.
According to Freud‘s daughter, Anna Freud, sublimation is a defense mechanism. And this process of making the scary safe may occur on a personal or societal level.
» Ashram, Cockburn (Bruce), Displacement, Myth, Reaction Formation, Symbol
Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, pp. 159-160.
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Bruce Cockburn (1945 – ) is a Canadian, Ottawa-born folk and rock musician. He sang about Christianity through natural metaphors well before it was considered cool to do so. Despite this, Cockburn managed to survive and even thrive in the Canadian record industry.
In one interview¹, he said that it’s fine to sing about God, but if the music’s not happening, then the message doesn’t really connect. This was probably an oblique reference to the contemporary Christian pop of the time, so much of it being formulaic and arguably not too original, musically speaking.
At cockburnproject.net he’s quoted as saying:
I am a Christian songwriter. I just don’t fit the Christian music scene.
As the years went by, Cockburn became increasingly critical of what he saw as hypocritical political and religious practices. In “The Gospel of Bondage” (1988) he denounces the selective use of Biblical quotations to justify questionable acts:
God won’t be reduced to an ideology…God must be on the side of right, not the side that justifies itself in terms of might.
Perhaps due to music’s unique ability to move the body and arouse passion, his “Rocket Launcher” (1984) single was sharply criticized:
If I had a rocket launcher… Some son of a bitch would die.
Cockburn responded to his critics by saying there’s a difference between (a) the artistic representation of anger and (b) advocating angry practices (see sublimation).
With regard to “Rocket Launcher” he claimed to merely represent his outrage in response to the bloodshed of innocents in South America.
Signing with the SONY label, Cockburn’s sound became bigger but he never really cracked the American market as, perhaps, anticipated.
Back with his former True North label, however, his electronically enhanced acoustic sound has returned, along with some noteworthy retro-style experimentation.
Like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morisette, Celine Dione, Glenn Gould and Justin Bieber, Cockburn is something of a culture hero in a country that is finally growing out of its national identify crisis.²
The following tune, “Wondering Where the Lions Are” is a reference to the Old Testament story of Daniel in the Lions Den and, according to Wikipedia, is his most popular single to date on the US but not the Canadian charts.³
¹ From a magazine article. Source cannot be located. Probably somewhere between the late 80s and the new millennium. In recent decades, Christian pop has undergone a serious reboot, some of which is arguably just as “cool” or “good” as anything else out there.
² This was especially prevalent in the 1980s, when entire university departments in the Humanities spent countless hours (and taxpayers dollars) looking at how Canada differed from the US and beyond.
- Michael Buble, Deadmau5 And Bruce Cockburn Honoured For Songwriting (contactmusic.com)
- Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award (o.canada.com)
- Bruce Cockburn…a creativity to help us see (thewearypilgrim.typepad.com)
- Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award (vancouversun.com)
- Mary Had A Baby by Bruce Cockburn – Christmas Songs 2012 Day 21 (garyware.me)
- Bruce Cockburn, deadmau5 feted at SOCAN gala (cbc.ca)
- “People see through you” Bruce Cockburn (jeffrozier.wordpress.com)
In psychoanalysis, Charles Rycroft says cathexis is a term coined by Sigmund Freud‘s English translators to indicate an “investment” of libidinal (sexual) energy that attaches to an internal object, representation or mental structure.¹ Some years later, Rycroft’s assertion has been expanded on in Wikipedia:
Once inside the head, so to speak, the libidinal energy can transfer from one mental structure to another, much like troops positioning around a battlefield.
According to Freud’s theory, cathected energy may attach to one mental process in order to repress another. Sooner or later there’s a build up of energy. This results in psychological dysfunction, or more positively in sublimation, where the energy is redirected toward some socially acceptable outlet (such as creating artwork).
Object cathexis refers to mental energy invested in an external object instead of the self. It should be noted that Freud’s use of the term “object” includes people. “Object” for Freud simply means a recipient of instinctual drives. So an object can be inside one’s own head or outside in the environment.
Also of note is how Freud never considers the possibility that pent up libidinal energy could be redirected to the spiritual life. On this score, many saints and mystics attest to the importance of celibacy. Without it, they say, their spiritual work (e.g. intercession) just can’t get done. Many go even further, describing chastity not as a kind of unavoidable necessity but as a great gift and virtue. This positive attitude lead St. Frances de Sales to say
Chastity is the lily among virtues and makes men almost equal to angels.³
Sadly, many people still on a materialistic level of consciousness find this difficult to understand. As a result, some predominantly spiritual people may suffer ridicule and persecution, even by their apparently religious peers. Even more sad, it seems that some potential spiritual sensitives are, themselves, duped by the status quo viewpoint. So instead of flowering into sainthood, they may end up in psychiatric wards.
Related Posts » Abreaction
¹ Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 16.
³ Cited in The Voice of the Saints, ed. Francis W. Johnston, Tan Books, 1986 , p. 55.
- Displacement (earthpages.wordpress.com)
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- Review: ‘Freud’s Last Session’ at the San Jose Rep (mercurynews.com)
- Quiz – Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development (psychology.about.com)
- Sigmund Freud my Quest for Peace (sexymomma884.wordpress.com)
- Freud Philosophy (trinadlambert.com)
- What is the libidinal economy of collective sovereignty? (jdeanicite.typepad.com)
- Freud & Jung in “A Dangerous Method” (psychologytoday.com)
Like sublimation, this involves a redirection of mental energy but with displacement the original impulse may be socially acceptable, whereas with sublimation the original impulse is socially unacceptable.
Displacement may occur in dreams when one image stands for another. Or it may occur in a simple substitution of one activity or person for another. When it’s linked with sublimation, displacement might result in humor where the unspeakable is spoken, if in a veiled manner.
Although displacement is usually described as a primary process (the primitive, unconscious part of the psyche that doesn’t follow strict rules about space and time), when it merges with conscious activity it also becomes a secondary process (the newer part of the mind concerned with logic, order and daytime reality). Examples of displacement as a primary and secondary process would be daydreaming, creative acts, and emotional thoughts.¹
¹ Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Penguin, 1972, pp. 35, 124-125. It should be noted that not everyone accepts Freud’s view of primary and secondary processes and, moreover, that the two are essentially at odds with one another.
- Defense Mechanism (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- A country on the couch (mindhacks.com)
- Link Between Freud’s Unconscious Conflicts And Conscious Anxiety Disorder Symptoms Shown, Lending Empirical Support To Psychoanalysis (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Perceptions are not Always Correct (psychologyrebel.wordpress.com)
- Freud’s theory of unconscious conflict linked to anxiety symptoms in new U-M brain research (eurekalert.org)
- Neuroscience Study Supports Freud’s View of Anxiety (psychcentral.com)
- The Freudian Fallacy (wariscrime.com)
- Why I’m A Freudian, and What That Means (theholydark.wordpress.com)
- Defense Mechanism (socyberty.com)
In 1922 the pioneering psychologist Sigmund Freud wrote that the defense mechanism is “a general designation for all the techniques which the ego makes use of in conflicts which may lead to neurosis.”¹
The defense mechanism may be useful and adaptive but when inappropriate or out of balance it is regarded as neurotic and potentially destructive.
A defense mechanism arises from anxiety that poses a threat to the psyche. Anxiety may be generated by instinctual tensions, guilt (threats of bad conscience from the superego) or by actual danger.
Freud was close to his daughter, Anna, who became a psychoanalyst in her own right. Anna Freud lists the defense mechanisms as
- reaction formation
- turning against the self
Of the ten, sublimation always refers to positive, so-called normal behavior and is never deemed neurotic or negative. Additionally, the psychological processes of splitting and denial are usually regarded as defense mechanisms.
It’s interesting to note that the idea of the defense mechanism is worded in such a way so as to make the world seem like a hostile, attacking place. While it’s true that much of human life is about psychological assault and being assaulted, children with a good, loving upbringing have parents (or primary caregivers), family and friends who shield them from many of life’s attacks. Good parenting also knows how to guide the child toward a healthy kind of mastery that includes genuine consideration for the rights of others. From this, kids and adults can experience all the joy and satisfaction that accompanies a mature balance of mastery and considerateness.
Having said this, one might wonder why Freud didn’t take a more positive approach and call these psychological dynamics coping or, perhaps, living mechanisms instead of defense mechanisms. Perhaps Freud’s choice was partly due to the fact that he developed his theories from working with neurotic patients. Also, Freud had a pessimistic, atheistic vision in which his patients, at best, progressed from neurotic anxiety to an apparently normal state of human unhappiness.
By forwarding a psychology which omitted God’s love from the healing process, one could say that, for all his smarts, Freud missed the main point.
¹ Cited in Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 28.
- Anna Freud (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Defense Mechanism (socyberty.com)
- Sigmund Freud (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Freud’s Not Dead; He’s Just Really Hard to Find (my.psychologytoday.com)
- The Geezer’s Dirty Dozen on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (jajsamos.wordpress.com)
- Sigmund Freud: a summary (newlifeparties.com)
- Totem and Taboo: The Life and Thought of Sigmund Freud (psychologytoday.com)
- Defense Mechanism (ourpoetrycorner.wordpress.com)
- Freud’s Not Dead; He’s Just Really Hard to Find (psychologytoday.com)
- Dreams. Freud. (giftofgabb30.wordpress.com)
- What Is Neuroticism? What Causes Neurosis? (medicalnewstoday.com)
Id [das Es (German) translated to the id (Latin); the "it" (English)]
In Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalysis, the id is a supposedly instinctual reservoir of disordered unconscious drives – a “cauldron full of seething excitations” – that’s present at birth.
Freud believed that people are driven by two conflicting central desires: the life drive (libido or Eros) (survival, propagation, hunger, thirst, and sex) and the death drive. The death drive was also termed “Thanatos”, although Freud did not use that term; “Thanatos” was introduced in this context by Paul Federn.¹
Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 66.
- Jung, Carl Gustav (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- “Religious doctrines are all illusions” or the very best bits from Sigmund Freud (beinghuman.blogs.fi)
- What is the specialized of sigmund freud (wiki.answers.com)
- Possible Thesis Angles (thesiswhereyoudontpanic.wordpress.com)
- Freud against Freud on sexuality and abnormality (aaronasphar.wordpress.com)
- Great essay by Richard Shapiro “The Psychoanalysis of Philosophy: Towards the Eroticization of Logos” (aaronasphar.wordpress.com)
- What are the example of conscious by sigmund freud (wiki.answers.com)
- Psychology vs.. Sociolgy (socyberty.com)
- 3 Facts You Might Not Know about Freud and His Biggest Addiction (psychcentral.com)
- Sigmund Freud by Pamela Thurschwell (thesiswhereyoudontpanic.wordpress.com)
The word myth is derived from the Greek mythos, meaning anything passed on orally.
Homer used mythos to signify stories and conversation based on fact instead of fiction. Later, Plato used mythos to refer to discourses containing shades of truth but which, for the most part, are fiction.
Among its contemporary meanings, myth often points back to a quasi-historical epoch or heroic character.
The term mythology may be used synonymously with myth or, more commonly, with a body of myths. ‘Mythology’ also involves a somewhat analytical (as in scholarly or philosophical) view of myths. A mythologist is someone who studies myths in this way, whereas a mythographer is more a compiler of myths.
Some mythologists trace historical conditions and archeological findings under the assumption that myths are just stories loosely based on historical events (as with the Hindu Ramayana).
In The Greek Myths Robert Graves says this about all myths—i.e. myth is something like a political cartoon.
Some rationalists contend that myth is an early protoscience that attempts to explain natural mysteries, not unlike contemporary science.
The functionalist theory sees myth as serving a positive social purpose. Emile Durkheim, for instance, argued that so-called primitive religion bonded community members and defined precise social classes and roles. The notion that social roles are defined and legitimized by mythology and sacred scripture seems to be partially supported by the Hindu caste system, by Greek and Nordic social stratification and by the Bible and the Koran.
Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory views myth as a folk tale that reveals more about psychological than historical truths. Freud sees myth mostly in terms of wish-fulfillment, denial and sublimation.
Despite Robert Graves’ attack on C. G. Jung for being too metaphysical, Jung himself says myths are “psychological truths” that are historical because they reveal the attitudes of a group at a particular juncture in history. Interestingly, Jung admits to creating his own modern myth through his psychological theories. He also admits to using scientific language to convince otherwise skeptical readers as to the relevance of his ideas.
In a sense, then, Jung’s approach to myth-making could be seen as somewhat postmodern in that he knows full well he’s creating a social truth, if not a permanent truth. While some third-rate thinkers may see this as some kind of moral threat, it’s not that at all. Jung’s goal in myth-making is to create a sense of meaning and purpose appropriate to his times.
Joseph Campbell notes that myth, in combination with rites and ceremonies, serves a pedagogical function. Campbell says myth provides a thread of sensibility running through various stages of life, teaching us how to belong and contribute to society, from birth to childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age and eventually to the grave.
In the Tibetan Book of The Dead, the importance of myth extends beyond the grave.
The structuralist theory of Claude Levi-Strauss looks at myth as something arising out of pre-set, universal linguistic structures. For Levi-Strauss, meaning is not separate but explicit to the structure of myths, which apparently pose a series of binary oppositions (e.g. good-evil, male-female, hot-cold, helpful-harmful) that demonstrate how the human mind thinks.
Levi-Strauss’ views have been challenged by Sir Evans Pritchard who says not all mythic systems are constructed in simple binary oppositions. Other opponents say that meaning may exist on top of structure. The statement “the yellow laugh looked wet” for example, is grammatically correct but most would see it as meaningless.
The poststructuralist Michel Foucault sees practically all statements and related practices in terms of myth or ‘fictions.’ For Foucault, societal morals, scientific truths as well as economic, ideological and political imperatives are myths which, when invested with social power, exhibit tangible effects. Sometimes these very real effects of myth are pleasurable and other times not.
- Into the Mythic: A fresh look at some old ideas (earthpages.org)
- E2.0: Enabling Digital Realities, Embracing Myths (fastforwardblog.com)
- DVD Review: Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers (blogcritics.org)
- Review: A Short History Of Myth (runesoup.com)
- Vamsee Juluri: Writing Mythology in an Age of Reality Crisis (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mistletoe (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- DVD Review: Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers (writer.fitzhome.com)
- Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth from Greyhawk Grognard (greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com)
- Beyond belief: why Egyptian art outlives its myths | Jonathan Jones (guardian.co.uk)
The original impulse remains unresolved in its infantile form within the unconscious, thus feeding the fires of a neuroses.
But reaction formation can lead to a successful sublimation of the original impulse.
An example of the negative, neurotic type of reaction formation would be the gay basher who has repressed his or her own homosexual fantasies.
The positive, adaptive type would be the father who sublimates inappropriate sexual desire for his daughter into buying her fine, attractive articles of clothing.
Some would say, however, that the best solution to the above scenario would be to become conscious of and entirely resolve the unacceptable impulse through analysis, prayer and/or purification techniques.
Critics of this approach believe it’s impossible to eradicate sexual desires, appropriate or not. This view is at loggerheads with personal accounts from saints like Faustina Kowalska who claim to have received celibacy as a divine gift. » Reversal
Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, pp. 136-137.
M. H. Abrams says that at the most fundamental level a symbol is anything that signifies something else.
Abrams also notes that a distinction is often made between the public and private symbol. The public symbol, such as the cross, is apparently understood by everyone in a given culture whereas the private symbol, such as an obscure poetic allusion, isn’t.
This distinction, however, seems open to debate: Surely not everyone in a given culture interprets the cross in the same way.
In literature a symbol is
a word or phrase that signifies an object or event which in turn signifies something, or suggests a range of reference, beyond itself (A Glossary of Literary Terms, 2005, p. 320).
In depth psychology, Carl Jung says the symbol is a meaningful image that mediates healing or destructive forces from the collective unconscious to ego consciousness–for example, the symbol of the Cross or Serpent.
Jung says symbols arise from the unknowable archetypes but are recognized as archetypal images. Archetypes interpenetrate among themselves; likewise, archetypal images are discrete but exhibit similarities. For Jung the flow of psychic energy between the collective unconscious and the symbol is a two-way process.
Jungian Erich Neumann says that the symbol acts as both as an “energy transformer” and as a “moulder of consciousness.” As an energy transformer the symbol facilitates the ego’s experience of the numinous, arising from the collective unconscious. As a moulder of consciousness, the symbol operates on the level of collective consciousness by contributing to the ideology of a given culture.
Jung says the interconnected conscious and unconscious aspects of humanity cannot be severed. He’s widely quoted as saying in The Undiscovered Self (1958):
You can take away a man’s gods, but only to give him others in return.
Likewise, political leaders of the mass state cannot avoid being glorified or demonized. This occurs through brute force, clever calculation and also through public fascination and projection.
Jung believes, for example, that a mass-produced placard image of Joseph Stalin expresses an archetypal force articulated on the conscious level that both sways and oppresses individuals.
A more contemporary example would be the disempowering psychological effect that massive bank towers (symbolizing ‘Big Business’) have on the poor and disenfranchised. And in ancient cultures such as Greece, Rome and Egypt, impressive architecture apparently had a similar effect on slaves, the exploited, the underprivileged and on less powerful visitors from foreign cultures.
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Ashram (Skt. a moving to + shrama spiritual discipline) An ashram is a retreat center where spiritual seekers, usually under the direct or indirect guidance of a master (guru), seek spiritual wisdom and development, ultimately leading to enlightenment.
Like a Christian monastery, ashram life may involve not just prayer and contemplation but also scholarly study and mundane chores.
Many ashrams require or advocate the sublimation of passion and sexual desire. Critics of this stipulation, of course, would probably use the word “repression” instead of “sublimation” to describe monastic celibacy. » Aurobindo (Sri), Auroville
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