Instinct is the spontaneous reaction in an animal’s behavior . This means that it is something you cannot learn.
In the world of animals, zoologists and ethologists (specialists in this type of behavior) describe the most varied instincts: those of attack and defense, those of migratory movements or protection in relation to their offspring. As they are common behaviors among members of a species , it is considered that these instinctive reactions constitute a genuine mechanism of animals.
In relation to human instincts, it is more complex to establish what they are and how they work, since man is an animal that thinks and lives in an environment , in a certain culture. The discussion of human instinct is complex. It is estimated that there are certain fixed patterns of behavior, for example the instinct to breastfeed babies or the instinct to survive. However, the reality of man is so complex that it is not always easy to determine whether a pattern of behavior is really instinctive. Apparently, all humans have a survival instinct, but there are situations where these statements are contradicted, for example, through a hunger strike.
The human instinct concept is in permanent controversy: the nature-culture binomial. In other words, it is about delimiting which aspects are really natural and which can be learned within a social context .
The animals’ instinct determines their behavior in a unique way. This mechanism is not the same in humans, as the instinct is modified, altered and even canceled by other patterns, such as cultural ones.
One of the thinkers who most reflected on human instincts was Sigmund Freud
His psychoanalytic theory states that the rational and conscious part of the mind acts as a barrier that hides the instinct and the unconscious mind that is in contact with the “animal” dimension of man. In another assessment, Freud states that humans are guided by two forces: the eros (instinct of life) and the thanatos (instinct of death). The first bets on the conversation of life in all its aspects, while the second expresses the impulse to destroy one’s existence.
In everyday language , the idea of instinct is used in other senses. It is often said, for example, that a person has an instinct for business when he has a special gift or an intuition in relation to this activity. In these cases, the word instinct is applied figuratively.