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MORE ABOUT INTERNAL CONFLICT
What is an internal conflict?
Internal conflict is a struggle within a person’s mind over a problem or question. That’s why it’s called internal.
Internal conflict vs. external conflict
All stories have conflict. Conflict makes the action happen. Conflict is the challenge that moves the plot along. But, if you’ve read a novel or watched a movie, you know there are many, many different types of plots—driven by different types of conflict. The biggest types are internal conflict and external conflict.
External conflict is when a person (or group) fights with something else outside of themselves. For example, a person may have conflict with an entire society, that’s external conflict. Think of To Kill A Mockingbird: Atticus Finch is fighting against the structural racism of his entire town.
Other types of external conflict are “Person vs. Environment” (Life of Pi), “Person vs. Supernatural” (Ghostbusters), and “Person vs. Machine” (The Terminator).
However, with internal conflict, there’s only one version: “Person vs. Self.” Internal conflict is a struggle within the self, not a struggle against an outside force. The archetypal image of this conflict is a person with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, with the devil telling them to do the bad thing and the angel telling them to do the good thing.
Think about the movie The Emperor’s New Groove, where Kronk’s internal conflict is literally represented by tiny angel-and-devil costumed versions of himself.
What are real-life examples of internal conflict?
In the literary context, internal conflict refers to a character’s inner struggle. You might say that a particular book or movie is driven by internal conflict, meaning that the action revolves around a character’s emotional struggle within themselves.
Internal struggles of this kind are peppered throughout pop culture too, since they’re important parts of character development. The moment in the Lord of the Rings series where Frodo can’t decide whether to go to Gondor with Boromir or straight to Mordor is internal conflict. Every time Spock wrestles with the existence of his own emotions in Star Trek: The Original Series, that’s an internal conflict too. And, in the Lion King, when Nala finds Simba and tells him he must return to Pride Rock, his dilemma over whether to go back or not is internal conflict.
In everyday life, we might encounter moral or ethical dilemmas that we have trouble resolving and feel conflicted about. In these cases, we can describe this as our own internal conflict about a concept or problem.
It’s hard to talk about the acute sense of internal conflict I feel right now. I loathe my body, not for how it looks, but for what it is unable to do. I am a feminist. I know my worth is not measured in my ability to have a child. And yet…https://t.co/QiCWaYPwRp pic.twitter.com/yHEA2qVdbh
— Cora Harrington (@lingerie_addict) August 17, 2019
Internal conflict can also be used more broadly to describe problems within a whole organization or nation, not just a single person. In that case, it means that the people inside the organization are fighting with each other. This is a little bit different than the literary use, but the basic connotations of “problems coming from inside, not outside” remains the same.
D.R. Congo is facing the 2nd worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.
It is also dealing with the world's 2nd biggest food crisis, fueled by internal conflict.
▪️ 13 million people are food insecure.
▪️ Over 5 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition pic.twitter.com/qpCkkr98it
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 1, 2019
How to use internal conflict in a sentence
“If you’re counting harmful content towards your success, you’re just setting yourself up for internal conflict,” Allen said.Facebook’s Algorithm Is Broken. We Collected Some Spicy Suggestions On How To Fix It.|Kaleigh Rogers|November 16, 2021|FiveThirtyEight
I’ve been competing for 17 years, and in that space, there’s always been internal conflict.
One long weekend may not be enough time to resolve the internal conflict unleashed by last week’s events.What Bill Cosby’s Release Really Says About Getting a Conviction Overturned in America|Janell Ross|July 7, 2021|Time
Even a company like Apple can’t entirely avoid being swept up in internal conflicts over fraught issues like sexism and political views that have caused rifts and PR crises across the tech industry.How angry Apple employees’ petition led to a controversial new hire’s departure|Shirin Ghaffary|May 14, 2021|Vox
The New York investigation began in 2019 as internal conflicts about the NRA’s spending burst dramatically into public view.
In the middle of all of that past suffering and present-day conflict, this Cosby bomb was dropped.
Their claims have led to both academic controversy and localized conflict.
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead.
World War II is still a long way off, but the seeds of conflict are already being sown on the continent.
So here we are with Abbas being the only one of three parties to this conflict still fighting for a two-state solution.
Under the internal pressure his whiskers stood on end and his face grew red.The Bondboy|George W. (George Washington) Ogden
He must trust to his human merits, and not miracles, for his Sonship is of no value in this conflict.Solomon and Solomonic Literature|Moncure Daniel Conway
The conflict in Tom's puzzled heart sharpened that evening into dreadful edges that cut him mercilessly whichever way he turned.
In her he felt again, more distinctly than before, another person—division, conflict.
The conflict of these certainties left hopeless disorder in every corner of his being.