A compulsion and its motivation

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Abstract

A case of a hand-biting compulsion is discussed. The symptom operated as a distraction activity, and kept the patient from “thinking about his sin.” Repression is held to be an inhibition of though processes by distraction activity. The particular form of the compulsion had been established by an earlier experience, and when frustrated, new symptoms, in the form of moral doubts, were complained of. Emotional tension was high, but the original thought process was replaced and emotional transference from the major problem to trifling matters of conduct took place. They also formed a basis for rationalization of conduct. Rationalization is defined as a defense reaction of thought by which there is a reduction of fear tension arising from real or imagined social disapproval or self criticism. The group of reactions ceased when the situation which had been the stimulus ceased to exist, but there remained a tendency to repress moral problems, to which attention was given in the treatment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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