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Alberto E. Fresina

CHAPTER 3 -(pages 37 to 46 of the book of 410)

Index of the chapter:

1. The detail of impulses
2- Secondary ways leading to pleasure
3- Free ways of giving displeasure
4- Impulses and their differential incidence in motivation
5- Impulses and the basic psychological contradiction



All the animals that have intentions share the general law of the psyche that is the double tendency to affirm pleasure and to deny displeasure. It implies that, the necessary interest of motivation was "invented" by nature many million of years ago. Later transformations that nature was making in animals, were carried out supposing the existence and the vigorous performance of the general law. That is, animals, essentially, only look for pleasure and they  deny displeasure. For this reason, if an animal feels pleasure when eating for example "mud", it will die shortly without being able to reproduce itself. On the other hand, if it feels pleasure ingesting a substance that will be advantageous for its physiology, it will be able to survive and to reproduce itself, having children with the similar adapting tendency. That animal is able to survive, but in no case its intention is surviving through food. As it doesn’t  “know" about physiology, it only wants to get pleasure made by such substance. But by chance, it feels pleasure for something that it is, at the same time, indispensable for life.

Natural selection, in the evolution of species, was systematically eliminated in a perfect way for all the animals that found pleasure in harmful acts against life. Those organisms that found pleasure (and the suppression of displeasure) in healthy or useful acts for the individual survival and for the species, were the only ones who survived. Any animal feeling pleasure for something harmful for survival, will be extinguished quickly, because, in view of psychological laws, it will naturally insist in it. What is more, although it finds pleasure in biologically neuter situations (neither indispensable nor harmful), it is something useless, a loss of time and energy, reason why it will be extinguished the same, being led by those that only achieve pleasure (and annulment of displeasure) in what it is indispensable to be able to live. For that reason, natural selection made a complete correspondence, where what it is harmful to survival causes displeasure, what it is useful to life produces pleasure, and the biologically neuter thing is psychically neuter.

If we focus on the activity of the general law, as a unique essential interest, we should conclude that the only organisms that survive are those that, by chance, find pleasure and annulment of displeasure, in indispensable facts for survival. Therefore, the natural selection, was making a real "cleaning" during its driving, leaving alive only those that made pleasure coincide with useful facts for life.

From this explanation the following law results: "under natural conditions, something not useful for individual and other species’ survival can not produce pleasure. It can not produce displeasure either, in natural terms, that situation that is not related to a harmful fact for survival."

With this information, we are able to deduce which are the man's primary needs, or what it is understood for impulses, instincts, reasons, tendencies. We must simply identify the facts that produce pleasure universally, and we will have this way, the total of particular tendencies or the man's primary needs. But before it, it is necessary a brief consideration on the relationship of concepts: general and particular. For example, "mammals in general", only exist in the particular mammals: hare, dog, giraffe, etc. We can go through mammals one by one, but we will never see "mammals in general". In the same way, regarding the general law or general tendency; it exists as an example eating, drinking and sex in particular tendencies. Then, particular tendencies are, where the general tendency exists, or where it is shown.  In other words, they are the entrance ways to get  pleasure.

A regularity of particular tendencies is that they take together the two partial tendencies of the general law. As we remember, the general law is the unit of partial affirming tendencies of pleasure and denying of displeasure. Taking as example the nutritious tendency, we find that both partial tendencies can not be separated. Simultaneously we aim to put an end to hunger displeasure and to achieve the ingestion pleasure. The act itself of eating, is the situation that puts an end to displeasure and makes the pleasure appear.

Another constant aspect we observe in particular tendencies, is that displeasure is presented as need and pleasure under the way of satisfaction.

Since the concept: necessity, has several meanings, we will use the abbreviation: nec. to refer to that unpleasant state characterized by a feeling of lack of the object of satisfaction. This way, hunger and thirst as experiences, are examples of  necs.

Apart from nec. and satisfaction, we find an intermediate element that will be called: directed tendency. This is the active element of the particular tendency. The directed tendency is what it goes from the particular nec., example: hunger, until particular satisfaction: eating.

We have three elements then, whose total configuration forms what we will call impulse: nec. - directed tendency - satisfaction. Although we will identify an impulse like the group of the three elements, the D.T. (directed tendency) is the true active element of impulse, it is the driving force that responds to nec., pushing towards satisfaction.

1. The detail of impulses

Based on what we have seen, and as it was already anticipated, in order to know which the impulses or man's primary necessities are, we should only answer the following question: what are the "things" that cause unconditional pleasure in all  members of the species, and which are  the corresponding necs.

The following impulses are deducted:*

* It is not the objective to establish a definitive or not changeable list. It is only the impulses that " were left" that were stabilized after a lot of time of revision based on the described general method for its determination.

. . . . Impulse
Particular displeasure or nec. - D.T.-> Particular pleasure
or satisfaction
  1- Alimentary hunger eating
  2- Sexual sexual nec. intercourse, orgasm
  3- Of beverage thirst drinking
  4- Of defecation nec. to defecate defecating
  5- Of urinating nec. to urinate urinating

...... ...... _____________________________________________

  6- Of corporal
 .  comfort
Corporal discomfort, uncomfortable position comfort
  7- Of scratching tingling , itch scratching
  8- Of heating cold corporal heating
  9- Of fresh heat to be refreshed
  10- Recreational

income to the entertainment situation


11- Of variation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

annoyance , to be fed up, weariness, nec. of change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

change of responsible situation, variation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


12- Of aggression


rage, wrath, anger, aggressive nec.


harm to object or subject .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


13- Fraternal


pity, beneficent nec. . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .


benefit for the object or subject


  14- Mediator
nec. to achieve a goal that serves to another impulse interested in it . . . . . .
happiness for the achievement of the goal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  15- Of recovery
feeling the lacking of the usual, " miss" what it lacks, "to miss" what it has been lost
recovery of what it has been lost, re-establishment, to meet again
  16- Of conservation
uneasiness , worry, fear, fright, terror . . . . . . . . . . . . . easiness, safety sensation by avoiding risk or danger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  17- Of relief pain or suffering relief
  18- Of continuation
"sadness because of the end", displeasure by seeing the end of the pleasant situation close, nec. to reaffirm it re-starting, continuation or reaffirmation of the pleasant situation

...... ...... _____________________________________________

  19- Of joy
desire, yearning, anxiety
to enjoy the desired fact, desire of satisfaction (this impulse acts on entrance ways to other impulses' pleasure, being superposed to these ones)
  20- Of rest tiredness, fatigue rest

21- Of curiosity . . . . . . . . . . ..................... ........... .............. ........ .

curiosity feeling, "interest", anxiety, intrigue, nec. to know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . understanding of information, to take notice, new fact, amazement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  22- Of communication . . ..
nec. to communicate, to transmit information, to express a content, to be listened and understood, to show something . . . . . . . . . . . . . . know, expressions by the receptor of having understood, to show something curious or amazing, receptor amazement
  23- Of approval . . . . . . . . . .
nec. of approval, of recognition, of esteem, of self-conformity . . . . . . . ..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
to receive approval, congratulations, demonstrations of esteem, recognition, pride, self-conformity

As it was noticed, there are two lines separating three groups of impulses in the above outline. The first five ones are of increasing nature. This means that the moment when the last satisfaction took place (in fact, physiologic events that occur) is decisive in the appearance and progressive increase of the nec., and therefore the demands of satisfaction. The second group is the one of the non-increasing impulses. They are only activated when a specific motivating and sporadic stimulus appears, which can not be present just for a while, without a necessary supposed “discharge". For example, if a certain time passes by without having reasons to feel fear, the conservation impulse will continue being inactive, and the subject will not have a “postponed” necessity of being quiet or of escaping. The same happens with the impulse of aggression. One can live a lot of time without having "aggressive necessities" if there has not been any motivating stimulus of the impulse (mainly very intense and frequent frustrations). The same happens with the impulse of refreshment, if a motivating stimulus of "heat" does not not appear. The third group is the one of the mixed impulses. On one hand, time lapsed from the last satisfaction causes the progressive increase of the nec. But they have the property of being "open", when the total reappearance of the nec. arises, although a complete satisfaction has just taken place. What we have just mentioned does not occur in the five increasing impulses. In them, after total satisfaction (until satiety), the nec. can not be immediately activated again. Mixed impulses instead, although they demand satisfaction as time passes by, may reappear with all their strength in front of the new motivating stimulus and independently of the previous satisfaction. Later on, we will continue developing this point (chapter 6)

2. Secondary ways leading to pleasure

Entrance ways to pleasure, recently detailed, are the fundamental ones; they are the satisfaction nucleus of impulses. But there are also other secondary ways leading to pleasure, which are a lot but not very significant from the point of view of motivation, and in general, they do not give a lot of pleasure, example: yawning, sneezing, perception of pleasant sensorial stimulus (smells, sounds, images). These secondary ways do not agree with the conditions that enable us to consider them particular impulses or primary necessities, that is the reason why they are not included in the above list of impulses. Apart from being useful for survival and although they are within the scope of general law, there would be two more requirements to be achieved by a  function of motivation, in order to be an impulse:

1 - The most basic aspect of those conditions is the presence of a particular nec., under the way of an unpleasant feeling, with a specific and regular characteristic; a D.T. moving the active behavior of the organism, as an answer to the nec.; and an object or situation giving the corresponding pleasure that appears as the satisfaction of the specific nec., putting an end to this nec.

2 - The second requirement is the minimum grade of significance of those three elements from the psychic and motivational point of view.

There are some mechanisms that fulfill the first condition (specific nec.- D.T.- satisfaction) but not with the second one, due to its poor motivational importance. These mechanisms will be called micro-impulses. Among these, we can mention: crying, sneezing, yawning, stretching, coughing, elimination of gases in an orally or anally way, and any other one. Micro-impulses work as reflexes automatisms, but with a clear intentional regulation, composed of a specific nec., D.T. and satisfaction. However,  nec. appears almost ever in a natural compulsive way, being extremely short the activity that D.T. gives satisfactions. Such an activity consists, basically, in facilitating the performance of a practically invariable mechanism in its reflexes sequence; the nec.- D.T. - satisfaction are serial, being the three elements present almost simultaneously.

If we situate micro-impulses within the classification of the three types of impulses, they would correspond to the no increasing group in general, that is to say, they are activated like an answer to a moving stimulus or a stimulating situation of sporadic or eventual appearance.

Distinction between impulses and micro-impulses is not based on a strict limit that separates them, since there would be a continuity in the grade of psychic and motivational importance between the most insignificant micro-impulse and the most developed impulses. But the element that would establish the qualitative difference, and on which separation is based, is the presence or absence of certain " space" between the appearance of nec. and the act of satisfaction. Impulses are those that count with that space naturally, in which D.T. can "do something", apart from facilitating the performance of a compulsive, relatively-automatic and invariable mechanism, like it is the case of micro-impulses.

Taking into account the above discussions, we can say that the general law of the psyche, as essence of intention, is branched out in man in more than a nucleus of impulses and around a dozen of micro-impulses, as the constant, necessary and regular way that the absolute tendency has to affirm pleasure and to deny displeasure. Then, all motivated behavior would always be guided to put an end to displeasure of some of those necs. and to achieve pleasure of their satisfaction.

Besides micro-impulses, there are many other secondary ways leading to pleasure (smells, images, mental representations, etc.). But none of them fits to the conditions that define impulse. These secondary ways will be called  orientation pleasures, and they will be divided into two groups: 1-orientation pleasures of  impulses. 2 – general orientation pleasures.

1 - The orientation pleasures of impulses are pleasant reactions that surround the nucleus of satisfaction of those ones, and are useful to guide the directed behavior towards the nucleus, example: the pleasant smell of a meal, or pleasure of the preliminary steps of the sexual act. Graphically:

When the organism finds the orientation pleasures of impulses (small dots), it is more motivated to insist towards that point, and this way to reach the nucleus of satisfaction more easily or with more probability.

Distribution and importance of those orientation pleasures are very variable according to the specific impulse. Here it becomes appropriate, the analogy with planets and satellites of the solar system. If we make equivalences between the nucleus of satisfaction with the planets and the orientation pleasures of impulses with satellites, we will be able to see, in this way, that some satellites of Jupiter or Saturn have a similar or bigger size than other planets, and nevertheless they are satellites, certain orientation pleasures of sexual impulse, for example, are the same or more intense than the nucleus of the urination or scratching impulses. However they are orientation pleasures or "satellites" of the nucleus of satisfaction of sexual impulse.

Orientation pleasures of impulses appear not only at a concrete level but at a material one as well. The pleasure that takes place in the case of mental representation of objects or situations that give satisfaction (fantasies, etc.) has also a guiding  function.

In fact, the orientation pleasures surrounding the nucleus, are mostly partial satisfactions of the impulse, the same as when it is only achieved a "piece" of the nucleus.

2 - The general orientation pleasures are similar to the former ones, but they are not surrounding the nucleus, but  they are rather distributed as "free ways" towards pleasure. The fact of being closed to useful situations for life in general, is guided by these pleasant reactions. As an example, we can mention: the pleasure of contemplating fire, the pleasure for tidiness, cleaning, witnessing an act of skill, harmony of shapes, and many other similar situations, giving almost ever little pleasure. Such ways of giving pleasures are not impulses, but they only open ways to pleasure that do not have a former specific nec. They are only preceded by nec.: desire, that is to say, they are taken by the impulse of joy (desire - D.T. - pleasant situation or satisfaction of desire). The impulse of joy does not have its satisfaction object specified or delimited, but it rather has everything that gives pleasure. Desire can arise guided towards anything able to give pleasure. Among those "things", the nucleus of satisfaction of other impulses are highlighted; they are the ones which arouse desire intensively. But all those ways giving little pleasure, are also achieved by the performance of the  impulse.

Although joy is the main impulse that sustains the behavior guided to those secondary ways, the impulse of continuation is also in charge of them, trying  to keep, reaffirm or make all pleasant situation persist, under any way.

3. Free ways of giving displeasure

Besides the unpleasant states of necs. of each impulse, there is a diversity of channels open to displeasure. But all those displeasures  are free to the dynamic management of the impulse of relief and conservation; thus, they constitute the nec. of the impulse of relief and what the impulse of conservation fears and avoids. The impulse of relief has no  specifications about its displeasure way, but any kind of displeasure may be the nec. of the impulse, which will be guided to put it an end, achieving the pleasure of relief like a particular way of its satisfaction. On the other hand, fear as a nec. of the preservation impulse, is always under the displeasure threat. Thus, any way producing displeasure can provoke fear, followed by the push of the D.T., guided towards the pleasure of easiness, avoiding the risk of pain, as the impulse satisfaction.

Among the many free ways to feel displeasure (apart from necs. of other impulses) there are some, which lead to a hard regret, for example: somatic suffering, frustration and moral regret. These feelings constitute the most important displeasures, that try to deny relief and preservation impulses. But there are also many light displeasures that carry out a complementary function regarding the pleasures of general orientation, example: dirtiness, untidiness, bad smells, unpleasant sounds or images, etc. We will call displeasures of general orientation to those “peripheral” ways leading to displeasure.  Such displeasures are also taken by those two impulses that are specialized in the denial of displeasure. Although these ones deal mainly with the most intense displeasures, they include any displeasure (to avoid the conservation one and to put an end to the relief one).

Based on what we have discussed, and forgetting micro-impulses at this moment, we can say that all ways leading to pleasure and displeasure, in spite of their great quantity and  complexity of their distribution, are comprised under the functional mechanism of impulses that have been discussed here, which constitute true laws of human motivation. Later on, we will analyze the list of impulses, in detail. (chapter 6).

4. Impulses and their differential incidence in motivation

We know that the magnitude of motivational power of each impulse is revolving. Thus, the impulse of drinking can remain unnoticed for a long time, or become into the most powerful one, ruling the entire psyche. For that reason, the intensity of the mobilized nec.  determines the eventual power of the impulse. However, taking as reference a "common"  day of the primitive human tribe, we find that there are impulses that are more difficult to be satisfied than others. Therefore, intensity of displeasure of the nec. as well as pleasure of satisfaction, would be approximately proportional to the natural difficulty of satisfaction. It would also be proportional to the biggest adapting importance of  achieving satisfaction more frequently.

5. Impulses and the basic psychological contradiction

The essence of psychic performance is not more than a continuous fight between two forces that tend to produce contrary effects. One is the absolute force of intention, expressed in the general law of the psyche, that pushes towards the affirmation of pleasure and denial of displeasure; and the other force is made up of the total conditions or external and internal neuro physiological factors, that tend objectively to the achievement of displeasure and denial of pleasure. However, although both forces undergo a permanent fight, they strongly cooperate between themselves to enable the organism’s survival. In other words, the fight and cooperation phenomena are together in the same fact, and they are relative to the considered effects. When two forces tend to cause contrary and excluding results, they are fighting; and when they tend to cause the same effect, they are cooperating between themselves. This way, taking into account pleasure or displeasure results, those forces are in struggle. But in relation to the effects of the organism’s survival or extinction, they cooperate each other. Both forces contribute to the survival effect. The permanent fight between the general law and the forces that are contrary to intention,  is at the same time, the closest cooperation of both opponents, facilitating the behavior movement and the organism’s survival.

As well as the general law is shown in primary tendencies or impulses, the basic contradiction of the psyche is also shown in the contradiction or fight that each impulse undergoes with the respective "fraction" of the opponent forces. For example, nutritious impulse tries to finish with the displeasure of hunger and to look for the pleasure of food. The opponent forces, here, tend to generate the unpleasant state of hunger and to deny or to limit the possibility of the impulse pleasure.

The same fight is present in each impulse, and it is evident the complementary situation of opposed forces, so that, the organism may achieve the object or fact, useful for life. Behavior would be paralyzed if only pleasure were a permanent situation. It would also be restrained, if only displeasure were the permanent situation, without existing any possibility of leaving that state. The lack of pleasure and displeasure would be likewise paralyzing, as well as the constant and equivalent simultaneity of both states. Just the passage from one to another one, is what enables the movement of psychic life and behavior.

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© Author: Alberto E. Fresina
Title: "The Laws of Psyche"
Title of the original Spanish Version:
"Las Leyes del Psiquismo"
Fundar Editorial
Printed in Mendoza, Argentina
I.S.B.N. 987-97020-9-3
Mendoza, 14th July, 1999
Copyright registered at the National Copyright Bureau in 1988, and at the Argentine Book Camera in 1999, year of its publication.
Translated by Ana El kassir with the collaboration of Marcela Berenguer
Characteristic of the original copy in Spanish: Number of pages: 426; measures: 5.9 x 8.27 x 1 inch; weight: 1.2lb.

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