Archive for February 7th, 2014

February 7, 2014

Psychological Sublimation

orin scrivello by ellen crenshaw

In psychology, sublimation [suhb-luh-mey-shuhn] is a mature type of defense mechanism where socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are consciously transformed into socially acceptable actions or behavior, possibly resulting in a long-term conversion of the initial impulse. Sigmund Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity (indeed, of civilization), allowing people to function normally in culturally acceptable ways.

He defined sublimation as the process of deflecting sexual instincts into acts of higher social valuation, being ‘an especially conspicuous feature of cultural development; it is what makes it possible for higher psychical activities, scientific, artistic or ideological, to play such an important part in civilised life.’ Sublimation is when displacement ‘serves a higher cultural or socially useful purpose, as in the creation of art or inventions.’¬†Psychoanalysts often refer to it as the only truly successful defense mechanism.

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