What Is The Compulsion to Repeat?

Another interesting thing about the Id is something that Freud developed which is the compulsion to repeat or the repetition compulsion. He felt that we tend to replay bad decisions over and over. What’s fascinating about it is the way he first came upon this idea. He saw a little child in a crib throw a toy out, get upset that he no longer had the toy, retrieve the toy, throw it out of the crib, get upset because he didn’t have the toy, retrieve the toy, throw it out of the crib. He was repeating the behavior over and over that was upsetting him.

An interesting example is an individual finding a certain trait in their significant others, over and over; a negative trait, whether it’s verbal abuse or physical abuse, that they keep selecting in a significant other. That’s the compulsion to repeat.

The issue with it is that it’s so deeply embedded in the Id, and it is my belief that it happens so early in life that whatever trauma or event occurred to create that need, it is so hard to access. We all have it. The compulsion to repeat plays out over and over, and it is very difficult to reach and to modify. ~ Rafael Sharón, NCPsyA, SCPsyA, Psychoanalyst in Princeton NJ