The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

From pleasure to pain

Taking the simple route, it seems easy to want pleasure and leave pain aside. But there is a link between both, that can’t be disconnected. Freud called it the pleasure principle.

It’s not difficult to see the many situations in which pain needs to be overcome to change a given situation, work to achieve a desired goal, or stick to a plan that isn’t a constant pleasure. And here pain ranges from small details to situations that may hurt considerably.

Then, there are also situations in which pain connects us with pleasure. There are many situations in which it is by stepping into anxiety or fear that pleasure is achieved. Think of a parachute jump, watching frightening movies, or racing down a ski slope to experience the limits of courage and speed.

But then also think about the way human beings seek pleasure, seek to enjoy what they are doing. The instinctive push towards pleasure may lead to an effort to forget the pain or push it aside. But there is also the possibility to seek pleasure beyond what the person can bear, that is until it becomes painful. In itself, or as a consequence. Lacan talked about jouissance, considering that it went beyond the pleasure principle.

These are forces leaders need to deal with.

It is quite easy to think about celebrations or rewards when something went well. What is less in focus is how pushing for performance, or asking a team to go beyond themselves is building on the idea to find pleasure or deal with pain.

It seems to assume that pain is forgotten once pleasure is found. But it might just as well underestimate the impact of pain or the force of pleasure.




Share this post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *