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Sublimation Mechanism of Psychoanalytical Counselling Theory

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The present methods being utilized by teachers, counselors and administrators in dealing with cases of indiscipline and juvenile delinquency in our secondary schools have not been sufficient or effective for handling all delinquent behaviours in our schools, hence the high prevalence of indiscipline and delinquency issues. This paper is not geared towards setting hard and fast rules on how to apply the mechanism of sublimation in dealing with juvenile delinquency, but at drawing the attention of the school counselor to the relevance of the principle of Sublimation in dealing with juvenile delinquency, and to stimulate the counsellor’s creativity in designing programmes that will serve as alternative outlets for available sexual and aggressive energies in adolescence to prevent them from channeling this sexual and aggressive energies directly into delinquent behaviours like rape, sexual harassment, vandalization of property, fighting, armed robbery, terrorism etc. The paper is therefore tailored to address the following: * Who is a juvenile delinquent?

* What are the present methods used by counselors in tackling juvenile Delinquency and what is lacking in these methods?
* What is Sublimation mechanism of Psychoanalytical Counseling Theory? Recommendations are given at the end of this paper.

Sublimation is one of the defence mechanisms defined in Freud’s
psychoanalytical theory of counseling as one of the ways in which the ego deals with anxiety causing situations in the individual. This mechanism could be a very useful tool in preventing and handling juvenile delinquency issues in secondary schools in Nigeria. The value of sublimation has been recognized a long while ago and forms the basis of the Psychoanalytical theory of career choice; in which career choice is regarded as a direct consequence of sublimation whereby people’s personality traits and impulses lead them to choose careers that will satisfy their basic impulses. What in the first instance is sublimation?

The Oxford Dictionary of Psychology (Colman, 2003) defined sublimation in Psychoanalysis as a defence mechanism by which a repressed or unconscious drive that is denied gratification is diverted into a more acceptable channel or form of expression, as when aggression is diverted into playing or watching violent sports, or when libido is directed into artistic or creative activity. Negative psychic energies (sexual and aggressive energies, libido) which according to Freud is available to human beings; embedded in the id, which could have been expressed directly in form of delinquent sexual and aggressive behaviours by juveniles can be diverted into commendable and rewarding cultural, social and artistic pursuits. These sexual and aggressive energies are a part of the death instinct in humans referred to by Freud as ‘thanatos’. In classical psychoanalysis human personality has two basic urges: * The urge to live or life instinct called EROS

* The urge to die or death instinct called THANATOS
Gross (2010) in his explanation of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of aggression said that Thanatos represents an inborn destructiveness directed primarily against the self with the aim of reducing tension and aggression to the barest minimum; in an attempt to reinvent the ideal state that was enjoyed in the womb, and the only way of going back to the ideal, is through death. Self directed aggression however, conflicts with the life instincts, eros; but because of the strength of the destructive impulse it cannot be suppressed but is being displaced towards others in the form of inappropriate and socially unacceptable sexual and aggressive behaviours. “More positively, aggression can be sublimated into sport, physical occupations and domination and mastery of nature and the world in general” (Gross 2010, Pp.451). Diverting sexual and aggressive energies or subliming this energy is the focus of this paper. If these destructive energies are diverted into socially acceptable pursuits, there will be none of the destructive energy available to juveniles for engaging in delinquent behaviours.

It is pertinent at this point to ensure that the terms ‘juvenile’ and ‘delinquents’ or ‘juvenile delinquency’ is properly understood. Juvenile delinquency is utilized in this work to refer to a series of behaviour engaged in by young or youthful persons (juveniles; according to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary Revised edition) that is detrimental to life and property of the society, which will be considered criminal behaviours if exhibited by adults. Delinquent behaviours targeted in this paper are mainly behaviours related to sexual and aggressive energies; among which are; vandalization of property, sexual harassment of all kinds including rape, fighting, armed robbery, bullying, cultism, all gangster behaviour etc. These behaviours characterize our secondary schools and prevent the schools from achieving their purpose of wholistic education and development of individual students; hence constant efforts to keep these delinquent activities at its barest.

The fact that these behaviours still prevail at a disturbing rate in our educational institutions, evident by reports of such activities daily in the news and other documents: The Dailytimes on the 29th of October 2011, published a case of one Franca Ogbu of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola who was bathed in acid by Nkire Bright Chibuzo a fellow student just because she failed to accept his advances for friendship; a statement in the World bank publication in 2007; that violence and other forms of harassment in schools are common in many countries (World bank, 2007; in Ajuwon, Fawole and Osungbade; 2011), Laetitia’s (2010) assertion that “sexual abuse by male students is particularly problematic at secondary school level, with most reports identifying them as the prime perpetrators of sexual abuse”(p.23) and the fact that the ratio of attempted to completed suicide among adolescents is much higher than that for any other age group, anywhere from 50:1 to 200:1(Garland and Zigler 1993, in Weiten and Llyod, 2003: Pp 309); motivates the proposal of a new method which in my believe counselors primarily, educational psychologists and teachers can utilize to fascilitate the attainment of the goals of the educational institutions and aid the transformation of our country, Nigeria. WHO IS A JUVENILE DELINQUENT?

The Illustrated Oxford Dictionary Revised Edition defines the word juvenile simply as a young or youthful person while The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines delinquency as illegal or immoral behaviour or actions especially by young people; and delinquent as behaving in a way that is illegal or that society does not approve of. From the above definitions we can derive a definition of a juvenile delinquent to be a young person engaging in illegal and immoral behaviours or behaving in ways not acceptable by society. Upadhya and Singh (2008) states that Juvenile delinquents are essentially criminals, minor in age and they violate the law of the land and commit offences like thefts, gambling, cheating, pick pocketing, murder, robbery, destruction of property, violence and assault, vagrancy, kidnapping, abduction, and other sexual offences. He also pointed out the fact that juvenile delinquency should be taken as a red signal and serious challenge to the society.

It should be paid attention to because if not properly handled, young delinquents become a permanent headache to society. Ayanniyi (2011) also describes delinquency as being at the base of every other threat to the well being of adolescents. He asserts that it takes the form of rebellion due to parental mismanagement of independence, aggression in order to demonstrate toughness; sexuality due to lack of self control, and vandalism due to heightened emotionalism. Many adolescents engage in one form of delinquent behaviour or the other during their secondary school years and a lot of factors could be responsible for or contribute to this acts of sexual and aggressive violence like, socioeconomic background, poor discipline methods utilized by parents and teachers, ignorance etc. but one dimension of the problem that I would like to bring to light is the fact that every individual possesses libido and because adolescents are at the peak of their development libidinal energies could also be at its peak.

These energies must be burnt either positively or negatively, the main thrust of this paper is to stimulate Counsellors to ensure that these energies do not find negative expression in the adolescents by channeling them positively. There is no questioning the fact that adolescents, teenagers or juveniles have a tendency towards delinquent behaviour and it is obvious that most delinquent behaviours are related to sex and aggression, the bone of contention then is the cause of this tendency towards delinquency in most adolescents. Many reasons have been proposed for these behaviours, Hall (1904) in Gross (2010) characterized teenage as a period of storm and stress. According to Gross (2010) evidence suggest that emotional reactions are more intense and volatile during adolescence compared with other periods of life but more important indicators of storm and stress are mental disorders and delinquent behaviour, hence engagement in delinquent behaviours is an indication of storm and stress. Some researchers cite early maturity as one cause of delinquency (Brukks – Grunn and waren, 1985 and Peterson and Crocket, 1985 both cited in Gross, 2010).

A study; carried out by Capsi et al (1993) cited in Gross (2010), of all the children born in Dunedin, New Zealand between April 1972 and March 1973, followed up every two years from age 3 to 15 found out that early maturing girls will be more at risk for: early delinquency (breaking windows, getting drunk, stealing etc., familiarity with delinquent peers and delinquency, using weapons, shoplifting etc.) Several theories have been propounded to explain aggression; Lorenz’s ethological approach considers aggression to be instinctive in all species and important to the evolutionary development of the species. This means that every individual has the tendency to be aggressive and supports the fact that we need to redirect that aggressiveness instincts into aggressiveness in artistic pursuits, aggressiveness in cultural displays; here in Africa some of our cultural dances involves a lot of aggressive energies, if the aggressive energies in teenagers is channeled towards cultural participation which will be rewarded there will be little aggressive energies left for crime.

Fraustration – Aggression Hypothesis (FAH) by Dollard et al (1939) in Gross (2010) agreed with Freud that aggression is innate but they argued that it will be triggered only by frustrating situations and events. We could agree with this hypothesis to the extent that perhaps the aggression displayed by juveniles in Nigeria is a reaction to the frustrating economic, social, political and religious crises in the country; like lack of employment opportunities, poor health facilities, oppression of the poor by the wealthy etc. In the aspect of immoral behaviour, www.teenhelp.com published that despite declines in rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S., about 820,000 teens become pregnant each year. That means that 34 percent of teenagers have at least one pregnancy before they turn 20, 79 percent of teenagers who become pregnant are unmarried. The number of unwanted pregnancies is particularly high among teenagers (Dray, 2012) and mostly terminates with an abortion.

This statistics are evident of the fact that socially unacceptable sexual behaviour is equally prevailent among teenagers. My opinion is in line with Freud’s theory, I believe that at birth sexual and aggressive energies in form of libido are available to all individuals but are inconsequential at childhood due to the fact that children have not developed the physical capacity to display this aggression in very harmful ways and also because they are subject to control by adults, but in teenage as they grow towards independence in decision making they also develop the capacity to display aggression in harmful ways. This coupled with the numerous physical and cognitive changes they experience which give rise to several crisis like the identity crisis described by Erickson (1968) in Weiten and Llyod (2003), peer group pressure etc predisposes them to utilize sexual and aggressive energies wrongly.

Whatever be the case Juvenile delinquency is a social malaise in Nigeria as a nation and particularly in our secondary schools and is a pointer to the fact that counseling and educational psychologists have to rise up to the occasion, change or adopt new strategies in other to improve the present situation. It is important to note that educators presently have evolved and adopted a lot of useful strategies in dealing with the problem of juvenile delinquency, without which, I believe the scenario would have been worst, Let us examine some of these methods. WHAT ARE THE PRESENT METHODS USED BY COUNSELORS IN TACKLING JUVENILE DELINQUENCY AND WHAT IS LACKING IN THESE METHODS? In most secondary schools in Nigeria, the counsellor’s job is to organize career day(s) or week, handle continuous assessment records and to attend to the concerns of students who come to the counseling clinic voluntarily or are reported to the school authorities for misbehaviour.

This may not be sufficient because many students will not on their own come to the counselor with their problems and many cases of aggression and sexual misbehavior will go unreported, hence a need for a preventive method like sublimation that addresses the cause of delinquency. Teachers usually use punishment (aversive stimulation even at the pre – primary and primary levels of education) and reinforcement to tackle problem behaviours. Punishment as we all know should not be a preferred disciplinary method due to the fact that it has several negative implications to the behaviour of the child. Weiten and Llyod, (2003) have pointed out three negative side effects of punishment as follows: * Punishment often triggers negative emotional responses, including fear, anxiety, anger and resentment, which can create a variety of problems including hostility towards the person carrying out the punishment. * Heavy punishment can result in the general suppression of behaviour, and learners who are frequently punished may become withdrawn and inhibited due to fear.

Thorndike’s law of effect also implies that when learning in the classroom is followed by a negative consequence like failure or punishment learning is inhibited. * Physical punishment often leads to aggressive behaviour, with children often subjected to physical punishment becoming more aggressive than the average youngster. This indicates that punishment could actually increase aggressive delinquent behaviour and so its use in the learning environment should be limited if not completely avoided, preventive methods of behaviour management remain a first option. Also the fact that teachers lack skills on how to properly utilize both punishment and reinforcement for behaviour modification usually leads to compounding the problem. Handling delinquent behaviours in the schools should be a corroborative effort between the school administration, the counselors, the classroom teachers and professional educational psychologists who are skilled in behaviour modification techniques, but few if any secondary school in Nigeria employs the services of a professional behaviour manager.

Beyond the corrective attempts at behaviour management or management of juvenile delinquency, the focus of this paper is on a preventive method whereby, energies that would have been channeled into delinquent behaviour are diverted into social, cultural and artistic pursuits hence preventing juvenile delinquency in schools. WHAT IS SUBLIMATION MECHANISM OF PSYCHOANALYTICAL COUNSELLING THEORY Sublimation mechanism is one of the defence mechanisms proposed by Sigmund Freud as methods by which the ego deals with conflicts and anxiety causing situations in the individual. Freud believes that individuals are in a constant state of conflict and anxiety due to ineffective dynamics between the three subsystems of the individual the id, the ego and the superego, due to the fact that repressed materials
in the unconscious level of awareness are always struggling to come to consciousness and are continuously suppressed unconsciously by the individual, due to developmental issues which result in conflicts, like the identity crisis identified by Erickson (1968) in Weiten and Llyod (2003) and the Quest for Independence identified by Osarenren (2002) and from daily occurrences.

He also believes that Conflicts rooted in childhood experiences or prolonged and troublesome; and that sexual and aggressive impulses are more likely to have far reaching consequences and are at the root of personality disorders, neurosis or maladjustment (Weiten and Llyod, 2003). Freud took this position based on his belief that sex and aggression are subject to more complex and ambiguous social controls than other basic biological urges and are thwarted more regularly and that the norms governing sexual and aggressive behaviours are very subtle and subject to misinterpretation, this potentially harmful sexual and aggressive impulse could be diverted into less harmful, creative, productive and socially acceptable pursuits through a process of displacement known as sublimation. What is this displacement? Displacement is the process of directing the goal of psychological energy from one object to another; it can also be referred to as object substitution.

When the object which is supposed to be used to satisfy tension reduction is no longer available or has lost some of its power, the individual redirects psychological energy towards another object for satisfaction of tension reduction and at any point that the new object fails to satisfy tension reduction it is displaced for another object, or substituted with another object.( Hansen, Warner and Sevic; 1977). Weiten and Llyod (2003) define displacement as diverting emotional feelings usually anger from the original source to a substitute target. This is very useful in counseling; a counselor can help an angry or usually angry juvenile to always go to the gym and box a punching bag when angry instead of fighting or to adopt boxing as a sport. Sublimation as a form of displacement according to Freud involves channeling aggressive or sexual energy into intellectual, humanitarian, cultural and artistic pursuits (Hansen et al; 1977). It is a process whereby the individual modifies the expression of primitive impulse into behaviours that are socially acceptable.

Wade and Tavris (2000, p 478) present a similar view stating that sublimation is when displacement “serves a higher cultural or socially useful purpose, as in the creation of art or inventions.” Sublimation allows us to act out socially unacceptable impulses by converting them into a more acceptable form. A common example is when a sadist becomes a surgeon or a dentist, or when a person experiencing extreme anger adopts kick boxing as a way of venting the anger acceptably. It is a distracting release for psychic energy created when we are faced with the dissonance of uncomfortable thoughts; example I am angry.

I go out and chop wood. I end up with a useful pile of firewood. I am also fitter and nobody is harmed, a person with strong sexual urges becomes an artist, a man who has extra-marital desires takes up household repairs when his wife is out of town. Many sports and games are sublimations of aggressive urges, as we sublimate the desire to fight into the ritualistic activities of formal competition. www.changingminds.org If sufficient options for distracting release of psychic energies are made available in secondary school the incidences of delinquency should reduce significantly, sublimation will also be a better option for handling indiscipline in schools than punishment. RECOMMENDATIONS

In the light of the fore going the following recommendations are given for the use of sublimation in managing behaviour problems in secondary schools: * Train students with problem sexual and aggressive behaviours on how to sublime sexual and aggressive energies. For instance a student who always gets into a fight could be trained to work away from heated arguments into cycling or even painting a picture of the argument scenario or the person he was arguing with in his room and a student who sexually harasses girls could take up learning to play sensual tunes on a piano or painting pictures of beautiful girls as an outlet for release of sexual energies. * Foster creativity in the adolescents by both direct and indirect teaching of creativity. The psychoanalytical theory of creativity depicts creativity as the sublimation of sexual energy and libidinal curiosities (Bargquist, 2000 cited in Ortese, 2009; Fairbairn, 1938; and Grotjahn, 1957; both cited in Ortese 2009) have also proposed that creation is restitution for destructive impulses.

Fostering creativity is one of the key ways to sublime destructive energies. * See to the creation of several clubs such as science and technical clubs, press clubs, drama societies, debate club, cultural troops, girls guide, Man ‘O war Society, boys scout etc. in secondary schools where this clubs are not already existent. In schools where this clubs are in existence, counsellors should liaise with staff members to ensure this clubs are functional and that there is variety in the activities of this clubs to maintain novelty and sustain interest of students. The principles of motivation should be applied to maintain interest where motivation is not intrinsic but normally sublimation activities should be intrinsically motivated. Participation in the numerous activities of the club will sap up sexual and aggressive energies leaving non for delinquent acts. Activities of Man O’ War club for instance will sap up a lot of aggressive energies.

* The counselor should use every technique within their means to ensure the participation of every student in at least one extracurricular activity of their choice in line with their interest and abilities; as with career choice which according to Brill (1949) in Olusakin and Ubangha (1998), is not a result of an accidental arrangement but as a means of sublimation; in his opinion peoples personality traits and impulses lead them to choose careers that will satisfy their basic life impulses, so I think that adolescents will choose extracurricular activities that will provide an outlet for their sexual and aggressive energies. Drawing from the principle of displacement explained above they may be a need for the adolescent to change from one activity to another if he finds the first activity insufficient for the dissipation of sexual and aggressive energies, unnecessary restrictions should not be put on the teenagers concerning the activity to partake in.

* Students who contravene the school rules and regulations instead of being punished could be given options of projects to work on or partake in like, painting, gardening, learning how to play some musical instruments, participating in sporting competitions etc., depending on the nature of their misbehavior. * Designing learning experiences in such a way as to ensure active participation of the students is another way of usurping what can be described in scientific term as free radical energies. * In most cases counselors should encourage group work in carrying out both curricular and extracurricular activities, identification with work groups could provide that sense of belonging among peers that teenagers usually seek and could lead to avoidance of the need to conform to peer pressure from bad groups and gangster groups just to ‘feel among’. * Keeping this mechanism in mind counselors should be creative as to means through which they can re – channel sexual and aggressive energies in adolescents into wholesome and acceptable ventures or pursuits. CONCLUSION

There are several techniques that could be derived from the numerous counseling theories and utilized in performance of the counsellor’s duties in the Secondary schools. The principle of sublimation is one of such techniques. Counsellors in secondary schools should avail themselves the opportunity of improving their performance by experimenting with this mechanism. Care should be taken however, to study more and obtain a complete understanding of how this mechanism can be applied and to design well thought out programmes in this regard.


Ajuwon, A. J., Fawole, F.O and Osungbade, K. O. (2011, April) Experience and Perpetuation of Violence among Secondary School Students in Ibadan Nigeria. Sierra Leone Journal of Psychological Research. 3 (1), Pp 27 – 35 Ayanniyi, B. A. (2011) Concise Modern Dictionary of Educational Psychology. Zaria: Tamaza Publishing Company Limited. Colman, A. M (2003) Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dray, S. (2012) Unplanned Pregnancy Statistics. Retreieved on the 25th of May 2012 from www.ehow.com/about-4611925-unplannedpregnancy-statistic.html Gross (2010) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. Dubai: An Hachette UK Company for Hodder Education. Hansen J. C., Warner R. W. and Sevic, R. R. (1977) Counselling: Theory process. Massachussets: Allyn and Bacon Inc. Laetitia, A. (2010) A report on School based Violence in West and Central Africa. Retrieved on the 6th of June from www.e4conference.org Olusakin, M. A. & Ubangha, M. B. (1998) Introduction to Counselling: A basic Text for Tertiary Institutions. Ibadan: KSP and Depet Publishers. Ortese, P. T. (2009) Psychology of creativity .Makurdi: Aboki Publishers. Osarenren, N. (2002) Child Development and Personality. Lagos: Derate Publishers. Sublimation. www.changingminds.org Retrieved on the 7th of June 2012 Unplanned Pregnancy Statistis. www.teenhelp.com. Retrieved on the 25th of May 2012. Upadhya, B. and Singh, Y. K. (2008) Educational Psychology .New Delhi: A P H Publishing
;Co-operation. Wade, C. and Tavris, C. (2000) Psychology, Sixth Edition. Prentice Hall Pp 478. ISBN 0-321-04931- Weiten, W. and Lloyd, M. A (2003) Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st century. Canada: Thompson Learning Inc.

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