PRIMARY GAIN

The basic psychological benefit derived from neurotic symptoms.According to many theorists, and particularly Freud, neurotic symptoms serve the primary purpose of relieving or controlling anxiety generated by con- ’cting impulses. At the same time they may bring secondary advantages, or gains, in the form of escape from a distressing or threatening situation, or sympathy, service, and attention from others. As an example, a pianist who is preparing to face a particularly critical audience may suddenly find her finger joints so stiff that she cannot appear. The symptom enables her to resolve her conflict about keeping the engagement, since she is able to satisfy her desire to escape from it (a secondary gain) without feeling anxious or guilty (the primary gain), for she feels she cannot be blamed for her “physical”ailment. Similarly, a man who has acquired an unconscious fear of death may feel compelled to say a certain prayer every hour on the hour. His compulsion also brings neurotic gains, since the praying allays his inward fear and at the same time assures him that he is behaving like a very religious man

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "PRIMARY GAIN," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/primary-gain/ (accessed July 16, 2019).
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