What is the intrapersonal conflict definition? Intrapersonal conflict or an internal personal conflict (IPC) can be defined as a controversy in self-concept, values, beliefs, morals, and even behavioral patterns. Sometimes, a person realizes inner contradiction, but in some cases, they have a hidden character.

Have you ever found yourself experiencing something like that? It begins with a feeling of psychological discomfort and can end up with anxiety after some time. If yes, you probably want to know more about it. So let’s dig deeper and find out why it’s important to understand the causes of this psychological phenomenon.

Why You Must Know about Intrapersonal Conflict

First of all, knowing the reasons for intrapersonal conflict helps to avoid stress and potential crisis following after it. Secondly, having an insight into the things that caused this state can make the intervention more efficient and can help to solve the conflict successfully.

Even though intrapersonal conflict is one of the most complicated types of conflicts to deal with, it can even bring some value. Psychologists assume that intrapersonal conflict is a  catalyst for personal development. It should be viewed as an integral aspect of everybody’s life that can help an individual form new skills and abilities when successfully resolved. 

Surprisingly enough, this type of conflict promotes the development of the adequate value-motivational system, enhances consciousness, improves self-reflection skills, and forms a so-called ‘psychological immune system’.

Karen Horney: Intrapersonal Conflict Definition

Karen Horney argued that a well-developed personality has enough inner resources to address internal conflict and can work with them. Also, she supposed that an intrapersonal conflict is caused by some core feelings, such, helplessness, fear, and anxiety. 

What is intrapersonal conflict? Intrapersonal conflict definition Intrapersonal conflict examples Types of intrapersonal conflicts

Sigmund Freud: What Is an Intrapersonal Conflict?

According to Sigmund Freud, a personality is contradictory by nature. He stated that people have two conflicting instincts that determine their behavior. They are Eros and Thanatos. The first one is a sexual instinct that is aimed at self-preservation and life, while the other one is a death instinct that is accompanied by aggression and self-destruction. Hence, an intrapersonal conflict occurs as the result of the eternal confrontation between Eros and Thanatos. 

Intrapersonal Conflicts Are Characterised by:

  • confusion
  • ambiguity
  • doubts
  • inner contradictions
  • delayed decision making 
  • inability to find a problem solution

Types of Intrapersonal Conflicts

Psychologists define the next types of interpersonal conflicts: 

Motivational conflict

It occurs when one’s needs and intentions contradict each other. 

Moral conflict

It appears when individual’s moral principles contradict each other or socially acceptable values. 

Role conflict

This type of conflict is experienced when one’s psychological roles cause contradictions. 

Adaptation conflict

It happens when individual’s abilities don’t meet the requirements set by new circumstances.

Conflict of inadequate self-esteem

The basis for this conflict is the differences between one’s self-esteem, personal demands, and the real state of affairs.

Neurotic conflict

If any kind of interpersonal conflict lasts for too long, it may result in neurotic conflict, which is characterized by high tensions caused by  confrontation between internal motives.

Are There Any Pros of Intrapersonal Conflicts?

Experts say that if an individual is capable of overcoming the conflict in a constructive way, it can result in personality development and harmonization. 

Let’s consider some of the potential positive consequences of an intrapersonal conflict.

Development facilitation 

An intrapersonal conflict may facilitate the transition to the next stage of early development. 

Moral development

The optimal solution of an intrapersonal conflict often turns out to be a great foundation of moral development

Character formation

Positively resolved inner conflicts shape character and promote positive orientation as well as determination

Self-esteem boost

Coping with intrapersonal conflict in a successful way adds personal value and helps to enhance self-esteem.

Cons of Intrapersonal Conflicts

Alongside potential benefits associated with intrapersonal conflicts, some destructive consequences also may occur. Have a look at some of them below.

Reduced effectiveness 

A prolonged intrapersonal conflict diminishes productivity and disrupts the effectiveness of all the activities

Personality weakening

Continuous inner conflicts distort a self-image and undermine personal strength, which makes an individual weaker 

Slow development

In most cases, such conflicts make individuals psychologically immature and interfere with reaching their goals. 

Lower self-confidence 

Long-lasting intrapersonal conflict can result in self-confidence lost and cause inferiority complex. 

Nervous breakdown 

This psychological phenomenon often makes people aggressive, anxious, or even depressed.

Destroyed relationships 

Frequent inner conflicts may destroy the relationships with colleagues, family members, and friends. 

Intrapersonal Conflict Examples

Intrapersonal conflicts arise when a person needs to take any kind of decision, no matter how difficult or important it is. Each decision requires us to choose between a few things that contradict each other. 

One of the most common reasons for intrapersonal conflicts is the difference in roles. For instance, a person may have contradictory job responsibilities at work or expectations that are mutually exclusive. It’s believed that managers must be friendly and strict at the same time, while employees have to complete all the work and avoid stress, which is far from reality. 

Another frequent cause of intrapersonal conflict is the contradiction between instant desires and the value system. You might have noticed the discomfort you experience while choosing between drinking alcohol to ease inner tension and being sober to maintain clear thinking. 

An inner conflict between your goals and desires may occur when you want to stick to the diet in order to lose weight and simultaneously to eat something sweet for mood boost. 

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