Frustration is a state of inability to satisfy a need because of some barrier. Someone or something always seems to be intervening to keep us from satisfying our needs. In details of day-to-day living, we find that objects, other people, and our limitations are barriers that lead to frustration. Objects can be tremendous source of frustration. We’re hurrying to get into the house and the door sticks. It becomes an impersonal barrier. Seething more and more, getting angrier and angrier, we struggle with it. We may curse the door; we may bang it. We take it out on the door, as if it’s personally responsible. In other words, we release on the door the energy mobilized by the intensity of our need to get it open. As a good example, the impersonal barriers of heavy traffic and bad road conditions can be enormously frustrating for many people. Individuals who are normally calm are continually stirred up to strong reactions once they get behind the steering wheel of the car. In one way or another, all of us have occasions to react to the impersonal objects that seem to bar our path. People are even more of a source of frustration than inanimate objects and much more disturbing because it is so much more difficult to displace aroused energy on a person than on an object such as a door. Two children want the same toy at the same time; two adults want different radio or television programs at the same time. Someone is going to be hurt; someone is going to be frustrated. The child may handle the frustration by taking a crack at his rival, but the civilized adult is not expected to give vent to his intense feelings in so direct a fashion. He may get “burnt up” (the phrase is somehow descriptive of aroused energy), but he is not expected to react violently. Frustration through people does make us argue and get angry, though, and sometimes it even leads to fist fights and murders. Our personal limitations and unrealistic levels of aspirations are among the most...
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