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Friday, May 6, 2016

The pleasure principle

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sigmund Freud had a lot of kinky theories about why we do the things we do but one of his theories wasn't kinky at all and it was called The Pleasure Principle. Freud said when we're born, we're basically a blank slate. We have potentials, needs and drives but we don't have a direction for any of those things. When toddlers are around, we have to child-proof our homes because they're trying to find a direction and, in making that attempt, they'll do anything. They would be just as likely to drink a bottle of lye as a bottle of milk. We have to put protectors on our electrical outlets to keep them from putting their fingers or sticking their tongues in them. We have to put everything dangerous or poisonous up out of their reach because they'll drink or eat anything. Their natural curiosity to learn about this big, new world they're now a part of compels them to experience everything and many of those things aren't good for them.

Freud also discovered something else about toddlers. He observed that they're happiest when they're having a good time and they have the BEST time when they're doing what they want to do. Let's say that mom takes her toddler outside and sits him down while she tends her garden. Minutes later, as she's working away, she hears absolute shrieks of joy from him and when she turns around to see what he's doing, he has found the only mud puddle in the yard, has crawled right into the middle of it and is covered with mud. He's rubbing it all over him, in addition to eating it too and he's having the time of his life. Mom drops her gardening tools, runs over to where he is and yanks him up out of the mud puddle. What does he do? He screams bloody murder and begins to cry because mom has interrupted his good time. He doesn't know the rules yet so he doesn't know he's not supposed to be having a good time in the mud puddle. Freud calls this drive the Id; the pleasure seeking side of the self. If uncontrolled, the id will continue to compel a person to seek out a good time doing only what he or she wants to do.

But most parents understand that we live in a society of rules and laws and, consequently, we can't always do what we want to do. So they establish rules for behavior and consequences for violating those rules. When the rules are broken, consequences follow and this sends a message to the child that they CAN'T always just do whatever they want to do, because they live in a world with other people and we all have obligations and responsibilities to each other. When the child begins to realize this, he begins to develop a superego, also known as a conscience, that acts as a governor on his behavior. So children who have caring, concerned parents who are teaching them the rules and applying consequences when the rules are broken tend to develop strong superegos that directs them to abide by most of the rules most of the time.

The important part of this theory, according to Freud, is that you have to be given a conscience because we don't have one at birth. A child will do ANYTHING until he learns better. So a conscience has to be imposed from the outside. You can't walk down the street and pick a conscience off a tree or go to Walmart and buy one. So if a conscience isn't imposed on you by your parents, you're likely not to develop much of one at all. And if you don't have that internal mechanism that regulates your behavior, you'll continue to do what you want to do, despite what the rules say.

Typically, the superego we're given, primarily by our parents, is strong enough to push the pleasure seeking drives of the Id underground and so most of the people abide by most of the rules most of the time. But if you haven't been given a superego or taught self-control, your Id continues to reign supreme and you keep doing whatever makes you happy, whether it violates the rules or not.

We see more and more Id dominated behavior as society continues to evolve. Celebrities, politicians, rock stars, and athletes take part in behavior that violates serious social norms and values because they think they're bullet proof; they think their celebrity gives them the right to do anything and everything.

But Freud would say the genesis of that behavior came from their childhood when they weren't given a sufficient conscience to overcome those natural, inborn desires.

I grew up in the day when "spare the rod and spoil the child" was practiced so I had my fair share of spankings. Every time I got one, the adults in my family seemed as distressed about it as I was and they would even tell me that.

They would say they hated having to spank me but it was for my own good because I had to learn that I couldn't always just do what I wanted to do. They didn't know a thing about Freud or his Pleasure Principle Theory but they DID know it was their job to teach me the rules and make sure I internalized them.

Letting our children slide and not applying punishments when they break the rules is the worst thing we can do for them because it allows the Id to remain dominant.

And our prisons are overflowing with Id dominated people who continued to do what they wanted to do because they never developed a sufficiently strong conscience to regulate their behavior.

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the day someone decided spanking kids was wrong, is when this country started having to deal with bad kids more often! now, having said that, there is a difference between spanking, and abuse! leaving welts, or scratches, or injuries should never be tolerated, but a swat on the butt never did anything more than hurt the kids feelings! it's sort of an eye opener for a kid! this crap with calling time out, just lets the kid know they'll be able to go back to the same thing, by just waiting it out! like you mike, my dad, and occasionally my mom, had no trouble with giving us a spanking! thank god he/she did, cause I've seen too many people that didn't get any discipline, and they are the ones that are usually in trouble with the law! i think it has caused me to stop and think, when i get into a situation that might cause me to get in trouble! now, i don't believe that you can't be friends with your kids, but you better make sure they know your the parent first, friend, second!! good op-ed mike!!!

-- Posted by bigred1 on Fri, Sep 17, 2010, at 2:55 PM

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Mike Hendricks
Mike at Night