Those who fail to succeed

Those who fail to succeed


  • 1 The fear of success
  • 2 One type of character
  • 3 What do those who fail fail?
  • 4 The signs of the boycott
  • 5 paradigmatic cases

Fear of success

Those who "fail to succeed" are people who once have achieved a certain success (such as a long-awaited love conquest, or a professional promotion of greater responsibility, prestige and economic retribution), far from enjoying success, they experience a certain sense of psychological, professional, emotional and even personal failure. And as they experience their failure passively, only under psychological treatment can they be able to recognize their active participation in that process.

This dramatic feature of character (pathological) described by S. Freud in 1916, it is based on an unconscious dynamic that has to do with the position of that future "saboteur" in the childhood. Freud explains the phenomenon, as the consequence of an unconscious equalization between success in adulthood and a supposed victory over the parent of the opposite sex, in childhood.

The real success in adult life must then be sanctioned as if it were an oedipal crime, with its consequent guilty feeling.

This is based on child sexuality and the Oedipus complex.

This phenomenon is related to the feeling that "something is too good to be true"The essence of success is"have arrived"further than the father himself, this being forbidden. Hence the intense feeling of guilt and the need to" pay "for it. Anyway, it should be clarified that both success and failure should be defined according to desires and prohibitions specific to each person, rather than through external valorization.

The paradoxical thing is that, while people seek to achieve achievements by their consequent feelings of satisfaction and pleasure, far from producing joy, some people, once they have achieved the fulfillment of their desires, begin to feel anxiety, become disorganized or become somatically ill and they don't calm down until they have shattered such achievements.

A kind of character

It is one of the three "character traits" that Freud described in 1916. When Freud He wrote these articles, was interested in the clinical manifestations of unconscious guilt, studies on narcissism and melancholy, works in which unconscious guilt played a fundamental role.

Along with the work on "Those who fail to succeed"he described:

TO. Exceptions: which refer to those individuals who feel they deserve special privileges in adult life for reasons that remain unconscious.
B. "The offender because of guilt" which refers to criminals who commit crimes through guilt in the present in order to justify their unconscious guilt.

What is common to all these types of characters, including "those who fail to succeed," is some antecedent of a dynamically unconscious process, which leads to observable manifestations, apparently contradictory to the principles of psychic functioning that Freud had already mentioned. in 1911: the pleasure-displeasure principle and the reality principle.

What do those who fail fail?

It is assumed that children who are destined to be "future saboteurs" of their own success have been children with great natural talent.

These gifts would facilitate your potential achievements. The first success experienced by the child is the situation of having achieved very early, be the favorites of his mother. The fantasies of exclusive possession of the mother, were accompanied by great difficulties to separate from her. Whether or not the mother preferred them more than the father, it cannot be known. But what is clear is that the bond with the mother in childhood and that still remains unconsciously is "intense" and "exclusive." They feel at the center of their mother's life. They feel overrated for her. The father is perceived as impotently furious for having been excluded from the mother-son dyad.

In normal development, the child may recognize that he does not satisfy his mother's wishes; that she needs another adult, the father and this is clear even in cases of widowhood or divorce, since there are always paternal substitutes.

"Those who fail to succeed" perceive the father as very aggressive and intensely envious of the mother-child bond, while the mother feels like intrusive and demanding attention and gratification. The bond (as adults) is experienced as sticky, so in adolescence the young man will make desperate efforts to separate as a pseudo-adult in an attempt to break the bond with the mother.

When accessing success, the excitement narcissistic, the image of himself as an oedipal winner and in parallel that of being as a valuable part of the mother's body (phallus) is excessive for the barrier of the repression Against incestuous desires. Being successful in such an exciting way is too risky.

When they sabotage, they symbolically castrate themselves, but magically they cease to be the coveted mother's phallus, finally feeling autonomous.

Success would represent remaining a part of the mother and failure is perceived as uniquely their own.

The signs of the boycott

to. The anxiety that accompanies personal achievement.
b. The consequent disorganization.
c. The absence of the expected joy or pleasure in the face of success.
d. Discontent with themselves despite the triumph.
and. Certain paranoid ideas of feeling envied by others.
F. The Depression.
g. Some somatic symptoms

Is it possible to reverse this situation?

The early diagnosis of this type of character that has to do with:
to. The talent.
b. The extreme competitiveness.
c. Some well defined narcissism quota.
d. The growing nervousness and irritability when the desired situation is about to be achieved.
and. Starting to commit certain "barbarities" or extravagances right there, where success was achieved.

Everything mentioned has to make us think that by sabotaging oneself, the successful person seeks to destroy the goal achieved, because of the deep discomfort or guilt that assails him.

Only psychoanalysis can help the person to recognize the unconscious motives of their attitude and not only preserve the achievement obtained, but also allow the person to be able to obtain new goals according to their capacity, creativity and perseverance.

It is worth adding that, the way in which a successful situation was accessed, although it has little to do with childhood conflicts, will contribute to the person feeling dignified, deserving of their achievement and can sustain while enjoying.

Paradigmatic cases

Freud took from the literature two cases that were considered paradigmatic of this type of pathological character.

1. "One of the figures, that of Lady Macbeth, immortal creation of William Shakespeare, presents all the evidence of the case of a vigorous personality, who after fighting with tremendous energy for the achievement of a desire, collapses once reached success "(S. Freud).
2. The other case is that of Rebeca West by Henrich Ibsen (1886: Rosmersholm), who after inducing the suicide of her rival, is overcome by the remorse that makes it impossible for her to enjoy the fruit of her malevolent argument, even after she was forgiven by the noble Rosmer for "the crime she had committed for love of him."

For Freud such "crimes" reverberate unconscious facts of his childhood. He notes that the dramatic attraction (of the play) is based on a similar reminiscence with these unconscious elements in the lives of each member of the public.

Lic. Iris Perla Pugliese