is a defense mechanism first described by Sigmund Freud,
as a way that people keep unpleasant memories out of their
conscious mind. Repression is a compensatory style that
deals with threat and stress by blocking unpleasant emotional
experiences that might bring up anxiety, distress and vulnerability.
Being split off from feelings is called alexithymia. Repressors
have a chronic inaccessible filter that keeps them from
experiencing the world through their emotions. They feel
attacked and then distance and isolate from others when
they are stressed. They avoid talking about and rehashing
unpleasant experiences as this adds to their stress. They
become emotionally inaccessible to others when they feel
the problem has been solved by their solution of dismissing
it. They are conflict avoidant and cannot tolerate working
things out to the satisfaction of their partner. They often
deny that there is a problem and have a lack of insight
about how their distancing bothers others.
have one emotion--from A to A. They can feel and express
anger. Anger is a substitute emotion for the hurt and disappointment
they might feel. Anger takes them out of the emotional flat
line and becomes their dominant emotion. They are stressed
by having to deal with others on an emotional level and
change the subject or evade the issue to keep people who
are upset from bothering them. They tend to be more aggressive
and have a higher belief in themselves than most people.
On the positive side, Repressors are often less neurotic
than those who express their feelings easier. As they value
the intellect, they can see events objectively without pesky
emotions clouding up the issue.
show that repressors remember fewer negative experiences
from childhood. By minimizing the unhappy events, they distort
reality and can even believe they had a happy childhood
when they did not. The research literature suggests that
they protect themselves from discomfort by superficially
taking in negative events. They spend less time processing
unpleasant new events and have the ability to dismiss them.
This defense allows them to experience unpleasant emotions
less frequently than emotionally intense people. The research
says that people who cannot feel the more vulnerable emotions
do not form associations between negative experiences and
internal arousal such as anxiety. They need repeated trials
to link a negative experience with negative emotions. The
research literature suggests that repressors have a lack
of emotional links in the brain that tie negative emotions
who repress their feelings view themselves as "thinkers"
and proudly use their intellect to process information.
Talking and problem solving take preference over feelings.
They can be highly analytical like Mr. Spock of the Starship
Enterprise. They often intellectualize which is trying to
explain emotionally painful feelings through thought. Sometimes
they feel superior over people who are more emotional and
dismiss this style of dealing with stress. Often they put
people down who are emotional. They just don't "get" feelings
and talking things out!
they do not process their own emotions, they don't have
a clue when it comes to understanding emotions in others.
They are lacking in empathy and cannot put themselves is
others' emotional shoes.
do the worst with partners who are highly emotional and
insist on sharing feelings and who try to make the Repressor
responsible for their anxiety that remains when there is
no clear-cut solution to the problem. They do best in relationships
with a partner who leaves them alone and who does not insist
on their engaging in continual emotional discussion. They
do best of all with a partner who does not need immediate
closure on problems and has the ability to sweep conflict
under the rug, however that rarely happens as they more
likely to choose partners who are in touch with their feelings.
do attract! Remember each style is just a defense mechanism
to deal with stress. Emotional pursuers and emotional distancers
are drawn to each other and thus the great comedy and drama
of life begins! Some people who repress their emotions do
learn across a lifetime and start to "wake up" to feelings
as they grow older.
Cast the Mote Out of Thine Own Eye!
is another defense mechanism described by Freud. Defense
mechanisms are always unconscious and people are unaware
that they have them. People often see their own attitudes
and behavior as "normal" and overestimate the worst in others.
People who project see others as bad while excusing the
same traits in themselves. They often assume a "False Consensus
Effect" which is believing that others perceive things the
way they do. We all have a bit of projection in us, but
some people have the need to blame others big time, thus
obstructing their own growth and learning.
is a common coping pattern where a person gets upset with
a trait in someone else that he also has but cannot own.
People who project their anger on another person suppress
the knowledge that they have the same trait. They are highly
sensitized to the unwanted behaviors in others and transfer
their horror and anger at their own unwanted inner trait
to an outside person. Much of their internal thought or
words during an argument is focused on blaming the other
who project blame often feel a hidden stigma and shame at
possessing a disgraceful personality trait so they "project"
or transfer anger on others to distract themselves from
knowing the truth about their own self. They become so highly
sensitized to the presence of their unwanted traits that
it interferes with their social informational processing.
So they don't see reality as it is and then operate out
of their misperceptions. How do you know if you are projecting
your anger on others? Being preoccupied and judgmental about
others' behavior is projection. If you spot it, you got
form of projection is to transfer the arrows and slings
of life onto "bad luck" or "fate." People who project often
have other defenses such as Over-generalized Thinking, which
is the habit of making statements that emphasize that things
are always that way. Examples of this type of thinking are:
"He never considers my opinion. You always put me down.
She always tells me what to do. I have to do all the work.
I never get a break. Why can't you ever get it right? and,
"I can't stand it. I can't take anymore." Overgeneralization
language uses words like "never, always, should and everybody
who blame others frequently have a habit of focusing on
right and wrong. They dwell on perceived injustices. They
often say, "It's not fair!" and dwell on the negative keeping
themselves in misery as they hold grudges. Keeping score
of slights from others and dwelling on them creates a climate
of hurt and suspicion. Focusing on unfairness keeps you
caught in anger, resentment and grudges. (Hey, life frequently
is unfair, but focusing on it only makes you more miserable!)
who blame others or situations without taking responsibility
for their contribution to the problem never get the sense
of satisfaction of growth. By refusing to see their own
errors, they lose the opportunity to change the very aspects
of themselves that keep them stuck. Studying personality
dynamics is one way of bringing these unconscious defense
mechanisms into the conscious mind. Becoming more aware
of yourself and learning about how you affect others is
part of the task of being a mature individual.