Excerpt About Contraction
It makes sense that the state of frustration is a contraction because it is the state of the organism when there is an undischarged tension. In the original experience, the child needs something but does not get his need met. The need is like a rising tension. It is in fact sympathetic arousal, a heightening of the charge of the autonomic nervous system, similar to what happens in the fight or flight reaction. When the need is met there is a discharge of the tension and arousal reaction. The discharge, which is a parasympathetic reaction, is felt as relaxation, satisfaction and gratification. This discharge, as we have discussed, is closely allied to the manifestation of the Merging Essence. The Merging Essence, which is felt as a pleasurable contentment, affects the nervous system, discharging its tension. When the need is not met, the heightened state of arousal and tension remains, and the Merging Essence is not released. This is clearly not healthy for the nervous system, for its function of autonomic regulation is being impeded. This state of contraction, which is the outcome of undischarged mounting tension in the nervous system, is frustration, the primitive affect characterizing negative merging.