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Anxiety and impulse control

The result of long-term blocking of needs has is two-fold


  1. The depletion of mental energy resulting from constant blocking, or damming up, of 'needs' or 'drives' results in anxiety symptoms.  The list of symptoms is endless and different personality types have a tendency to manifest different symptoms.  Examples include general fatigue, interruptions of sleep, bowel problems, running events over and over in one’s mind in order to try to resolve anxieties, phobias, obsessive checking (e.g. of doors being locked or windows being closed).  These kinds of behaviours are also often observed immediately after someone has experienced a traumatic event.  For a fuller list of typical traits exhibited as a result of anxiety, click on the this title:   Ego-Resiliency and Ego-Control
  2. Ongoing over-supression of 'needs' is proposed as the underlying cause of anxiety.  However, in order to regulate our emotions and to live functional lives, it is often necessary to supress impulses when they are stimulated.  This is not long-term over-supression, but simply short term miniature supression of simple daily stimulations.  For example, our instinctual impulse may be to rest and enjoy ourselves, but we may have to supress this impulse on occasions in order to do work.  Since mental energy is needed in order to suppress underlying drives, a long-term depletion of mental energy resulting from ongoing blocking of underlying needs will leave little reserve energy for the purpose of blocking current drives, or impulses, stimulated on a day-to-day basis.  This means that when drives are stimulated in individuals who have underlying long-term supression of core needs, the individual will struggle to suppress these drives.  For those who have plenty of mental energy in reserve ready for suppressing drives when necessary, a new stimulation may be easily suppressed; however, for those with depleted levels of ‘mental energy’, the same stimulation will be experienced as far more stimulating and overwhelming. 

Psychoanalytic theory also proposes that supression of underlying needs brings about another typical response, which is central to the theory outlined on this website.  If a need is supressed, an individual will need some kind of outlet for that need; there is a limit to how much 'drive' or 'need' we can supress.  If an individual has come to associate the fullfilment of a need with trauma, it is typical that the individual will supress this need and also find another outlet for that need.  The alternative outlet will be dissimilar enough to the original target of the underlying need, that the individual will not experience the same anxiety as she experiences when attempting to fulfil the need directly.  However, the new target, by virtue of the fact that it is not identical to the original target of the 'drive' or 'need', will not fulfill the need fully.  In fact, the new outlet will only satisfy the underlying need a little.  The original need has been 'displaced' onto a new target, and this target is known as a 'derivative' of the origninal need.  However, since the derivative only partially fulfulls the true underlying need, the individual who attempts to fulfill this need using a derivative will be left feeling unfulfilled.  Worse, partaking in an activity which involves a derivative will typically stimulate the underlying need further and the individual will find that she becomes somewhat addicted to the derivative.  The process of stimulating the need and only partially fulfilling the need (due to the fact that the derivative is only a partial representative of the underlying need), is somewhat painful or traumatic, and over exposure to stimulating derivatives serves to increase anxiety. 

The following is a cetnral tenet underlying the theory found on this website: Psychoanlytic theory therefore proposes that an exagerated need or desire for an object, betrays an underlying repressed need.  Where a need is not repressed, a far more balanced level of 'need' or desire is expected to exist.


Those with depleted mental energy reserves will typically respond to situation 2) in one of two different ways.

a) The individual will give in to stimulation and allow expression of their instinctual drive.

b) In response to the over-stimulation experienced by a specific stimulus, the individual will determine to avoid this stimulus in order that she is not stimulated by it thereby avoiding the struggle involved in attempting to suppress the powerful instinctual drive that would otherwise be excited. 

For a more comprehensive list of typical ways in which anxious individuals act impulsively or restrict expression of impulse, click on the following title:  Ego-Resiliecy and Ego-Control