Ambivalent Definition, What it means, concept, and examples of use – We explain what ambivalent is, the origin of the term, and how psychoanalysis understands it. Also, examples in sentences.
What is something ambivalent?
When we say that something is ambivalent, or that there is ambivalence, we are referring to a situation, an element, or an idea with respect to which two interpretations, two values, or two tendencies, normally opposite to each other, are presented at the same time.
For example, we can have ambivalent feelings about a person if we feel that we love and hate them at the same time, without either feeling predominating in the long run over the other.
The word ambivalence comes from the Latin ambo (“both”) and valentia (“courage” or “strength”). It was coined at the beginning of the 20th century by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuer (1857-1939), who proposed it to describe the complex relationships in which two opposing and irreconcilable emotional tendencies occur at the same time concerning the same object.
This term was embraced by psychoanalysis, and praised by Sigmund Freud himself. In the field of psychoanalysis, however, it is understood that in these situations of affective ambivalence (also called ambithymia), the two emotions do not usually present in the same way, but rather one of the two is more manifest while the other is repressed.
However, we can use the term ambivalent in many other fields of life, other than psychological ones. Always, of course, with the sense of the simultaneous presence of two different values at the same time, that is, as more or less synonymous with ambiguity, doubt, indeterminacy, or confusion. Its antonyms are univalent, univocal, explicit, and unidirectional.
Examples of sentences with “ambivalent”
Below, we present some examples of use of this word, to be able to appreciate it in its possible contexts:
- The results of the consumer survey are ambivalent.
- Candidate, so much political ambivalence will make you look suspicious.
- That dismissal letter left him in an ambivalent situation: he felt great relief and at the same time deep fear.
- I don’t know if Lorena likes me, because she always sends me ambivalent signals.