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Levin, S. (1978). Internal Mechanisms that Support the Acting out of Destructive Impulses. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 5:55-60.

(1978). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 5:55-60

Internal Mechanisms that Support the Acting out of Destructive Impulses

Sidney Levin


Some of the main features of personality are based upon how the ego deals with the destructive impulses that are aroused when instinctual 'defusion' occurs. Although destructive impulses are often suppressed by the ego, the pleasure principle usually results in some basic readiness to act out these impulses. The transformation of this readiness into an acting-out process is often facilitated by the use of certain auxiliary ego mechanisms, such as pseudo-rational justification, an attitude of entitlement, an attitude of glorification and an attitude of innocence. The one mechanism that is most commonly used for this purpose is pseudo-rational justification.

Although the above-mentioned auxiliary mechanisms are sometimes referred to as 'defences', they are actually the opposite of defences since their main function is to promote instinctual discharge rather than to prevent it. It is apparent that when these auxiliary mechanisms are used in order to support destructive behaviour, they contribute to the wasting of society's resources.

There is considerable evidence to indicate that man's destructiveness is related in part to his strong

tendency to react with shame to various life experiences, including those which arouse his affectionate feelings and impulses.

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