chapter  3
26 Pages

Objective and Subjective Rules for Delay of Gratification

WithWalter Mischel

Freud's (1911) analysis of the transition from primary to secondary process provides one of the few theoretical discussions of how delay of gratification may be bridged. The psychoanalytic formation suggests that ideation arises intially when there is a block or delay in the process of direct gratification discharge (Rapaport, 1967). During such externally imposed delay, Freud suggested, the child constructs a "hallucinatory wish-fulfilling image" of the need-satisfying object. As a result of frequent association of tension reduction with goal objects, and the development of greater ego organization, the imposed delay of satisfying objects gradually results in the substitution of hallucinatory satisfactions and other thought processes that convert "free cathexes" into "bound cathexes" (Freud, 1911; Singer, 1955). Unfortunately,

however, the exact process remains unclear, although there has been much psychoanalytic theorizing about the function of the mental representation of blocked gratifications in the development of delaying capacity.