Excerpt About Frustration

The Specific Feeling of Frustration

Now, what is the specific feeling of frustration? Although people generally believe they know the feeling of frustration, the specific affect is not so easily discerned. Most people feel a general discomfort, irritation and impatience. There is a sense of being pent up, edgy and discontented, that demands immediate release. One can feel dissatisfaction and discontent, but what are these? More specifically, what are the sensations in the body when one is feeling frustrated? In anger one feels heat, energy, power and, maybe, some discomfort. In sadness one feels warmth, depth, gentleness and, maybe, some depression or hurt. But what are the specific sensations of frustration? The sensation of frustration is very painful, usually intolerable to feel directly. What most people call frustration is really a softened and smoothed out frustration; the frustration is usually filtered through some defense or numbing of the sensation. It is possible to perceive the raw affect of frustration, but usually only when one goes very deep within oneself. One’s consciousness must become fine, subtle and minutely discriminating. One must be able to discern one’s state at the subtler levels of personality, which generally requires the aid of essential experience. One starts feeling a kind of heat, as in anger, but it is a dry heat. It is an unpleasant feeling of heat and dryness. This makes it feel prickly, a hot prickly sensation, similar to the sensation of irritated and inflamed dry skin. When one is willing to go deeper into the sensation one feels it as a harshness, a dry and hot harshness, prickly and almost feverish. There is a hot irritation here or there in the body, a restlessness on the skin. Even though the purest form of this affect is very subtle, the reader might recognize these “symptoms” of negative merging, which are actually very common indeed in our experience, but so ubiquitous and so filtered through defense that they are not noticed. When it intensifies, the harshness becomes more prickly, as if one’s skin is being rubbed by sandpaper from the inside. One image that many students report is that of barbed wire inside the skin. One feels as if he is being pricked by a concentration of fine barbed wire.

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