The Positive Channels of Sublimation

By | July 26, 2016

Displaying the ability to repel impulses that an individual knows to be harmful is considered a victory in the world of psychoanalysis. Known as sublimation, it has connections to other considerations such as repression and regression, but a major difference exists in this case.

Sublimation Freud

With repression and regression, strict avoidance of the issue at hand is evident. Both of these use a state of denial as a defense mechanism. In contrast, sublimation forges ahead while keeping such impulses in mind. The end result is that the idea of either making the best out of a bad situation or doing something constructive is how this approach is viewed.

Psychoanalyst Patrick Mahony’s study of how Sigmund Freud approached all segments of human behavior acknowledges the latter’s penchant for attaching sexual connotations to many facets of everyday life. However, Freud actually saw the idea of sublimation as a mature instinct since it was able to face up to a troubling issue in a person’s mind. In short, it served as a convergence of two parts (id and super-ego) of their psyche.

From a sexual standpoint, a new approach is taken to the living of an individual’s life. In theory, this helps them fight off the urge to engage in what they’ve been brought up to believe constitutes an immoral act. Patrick Mahony indicates that Freud’s thinking in this area primarily focused on homosexuality, but the reality is that a much wider scope could easily be applied when looking at things from the prism of the 21st Century.

The breakup of a relationship can be painful, but by exploring different avenues for the energies previously used there, it offers a measure of catharsis. This may take the form of throwing oneself into their work, with many artists using these very things as creative fuel for a new project.

Other more destructive acts like drunken behavior or perhaps even criminal activity can be channelled into more positive pursuits that help avoid such danger zones completely. In simple terms, the ability to turn a flaw into an asset comes through.