Inhibition Concept – In psychology, biology and law

We explain what inhibition is and what its causes may be. In addition, its meaning in psychology, biology and law.

The inhibition can be due to external or internal factors.

What is inhibition?

Inhibition, effect of inhibiting or inhibiting, is the action of preventing, repressing or prohibiting an action, a habit or a faculty. The term is used frequently in the areas of psychology, biochemistry and law, and comes from the Latin verb inhibit, and with which formerly it referred to the action of rowing against the movement of a boat, in order to slow down or stop its advance.

Inhibition can be motivated by factors or powers external to the individual, or by factors inherent to himself, and in the latter case it is possible to speak of self-inhibition. In both cases, however, the result is the delay, obstruction or impediment of an action or a conduct, which thereafter can be considered inhibited.

Inhibition in psychology

In psychological terms, inhibition is understood as the suspension or repression of conduct in the individual, either by external contextual factors, or by internal emotional or psychic factors. This mental phenomenon can be understood in two very different ways, one more “positive” and the other more “negative”, that is, one that benefits social performance and the other that hinders it.

  • In the first case, inhibition is understood as a cognitive executive function that allows us not to react automatically or unconscious before a stimulus, but we are capable of inhibiting certain responses to carry them out at a more propitious moment, or repressing them altogether and not giving them an exit. This is key to social peace and community treatment.
  • In the second case, on the other hand, inhibition is understood as a pernicious psychological factor that hinders free social exercise and it leads the individual to repress the perfectly normal expressions of his personality. These inhibited people tend to withdraw and isolate themselves socially, as a consequence of some type of social trauma or lack of self-esteem necessary to assert themselves in front of others.

Inhibition in biology

biochemical enzyme inhibition
Competitive inhibition prevents the substrate from binding to the enzyme.

In the field of biology and especially biochemistry, the concept of inhibition is applied to impediment or interruption of chemical reactions controlled, as a consequence of the action of certain proteins (enzymes, for example) or pharmacological substances. In fact, this is a term widely used in the medical and pharmacological field: many medicines inhibit a certain protein or a certain process.

Thus, biochemical inhibition can be of two different types:

Enzyme inhibition, which consists of the action of specific molecules capable of binding to an enzyme (that is, a specialized protein with catalyst functions in the body), to decrease the intensity of its actions, that is, to attenuate them. This type of action is very common in pesticides and medicines, since once introduced into an organism, these molecules punctually modify the behavior of natural enzymes, for better or for worse. These inhibition processes can be of three types, in turn:

  • Competitive inhibition, when the inhibiting substance takes the place of the usual substrates with which the enzyme interacts, preventing it from fulfilling its usual role.
  • Non-competitive inhibition, when the inhibiting substance does not prevent the contact between the substrate and the enzyme, but it does reduce its effectiveness through parallel biochemical processes.
  • Mixed inhibition, when the inhibiting substance does not prevent the binding of the substrate and the enzyme, but does act as a bridge between them, that is, it modifies or modulates said interaction, as long as the substrate concentrations allow it.

Lateral inhibition, for its part, is a non-enzymatic cellular procedure in which one cell inhibits another adjacent cell in its growth, differentiation or activity, thus exerting a type of cellular control through the Notch signaling pathway (that is, intercellular communication to through the exchange of transmembrane proteins).

Inhibition in law

In the field of law and legal action, inhibition is understood as the action of preventing a judicial instance (a judge, a court, etc.) from exercising its role in a given case, considering that it is prevented from doing so due to loss of impartiality or lack of competence.