Falsify Reality, Deny Yourself: Primitive Defense Mechanisms (NEW Intro+Compilation)

Uploaded 11/22/2023, approx. 1 hour 44 minute read

Psychological defense mechanisms are intended to accomplish one task and one task only, to prevent inner conflict, to avoid dissonance, to restore egosyntony and egomorrhoids.

In other words, to make you feel comfortable with yourself in your own skin.

The psychological defense mechanisms are anxiolytic, they reduce anxiety, they ameliorate and mitigate tension, they prevent you in short from falling apart, from experiencing decompensation, from resorting to reckless behaviors such as acting out.

Psychological defense mechanisms, as the name implies, are your defenses against a cruel, hostile, encroaching environment, a world that is not there to cater to your psychological needs, to pamper you, to spoil you or to consider you special and unique.

Psychological defense mechanisms, there are many, there are dozens, accomplish these tasks in two ways.

The first way is to falsify reality.

We don't use the word falsify in clinical psychology because it's politically incorrect.

Instead, we say reframe. We reframe reality, we rewrite history, we invent memories, we reconstruct and deconstruct facts, we in short create a fantastic space within which the narrative, the story that is our life, our experiences are not injurious, they are not hurtful, we avoid pain.

This is a form of pain aversion.

There are three important defense mechanisms that play a major role in accomplishing all this.

Another very important function of defense mechanisms is dis-avowing, denying, rejecting, repressing, suppressing the parts of yourself that you dislike, the parts of you that you find abhorrent, unacceptable, the parts of you that you would like to pretend do not exist.

Psychological defense mechanisms help you to get rid of these parts that you cannot coexist with peacefully.

And so the three defense mechanisms that accomplish these two roles are splitting, I'm all good, everyone else is all bad, or I'm all good, you're all bad. That way, I am not subject to guilt or to shame or to envy, because I'm perfect.

Splitting is an infantile defense mechanism. It develops in very, very early childhood and goes extinct at age 36 months.

But there are many adults, unfortunately, who never grow past this stage and they still split.

We are witnessing the rampant after-effects and outcomes of splitting in politics, in interpersonal relationships, in a variety of other settings.

People split all the time. They split as individuals and they split as collectives.

My country is always right. My country is all good. The enemy is demonic and all bad.

That's an example of splitting in politics.

The narcissist is all bad, vicious, evil, malevolent, malicious, demonic, devilish.

I, the victim, I'm all good, I'm angelic, I've had no contribution to my predicament. I'm not responsible in any way, shape or form. I should not feel guilty or self-critical or ashamed.

So this is another example of splitting, which is very common online, of course, among self-style victims of narcissistic abuse.

The second mechanism is known as projection.

The parts of you that you cannot tolerate, that you find unbearable, the parts of you that challenge your self-perception and self-image and inner peace, the part of you that generate constant tension and stress, the parts of you that you wish to disavow, that you wish to discard, to ignore, to deny, you attribute these parts to another person.

So if you are a weak person, you would say that your partner is weak. If you are abusive, you would pretend to be a victim. If you are avaricious, greedy, you would mock people who make money.

This is a form of projection attributing to other people your traits, your behaviors, the parts of you that you would rather not have existed.

And this is projection.

Another mechanism which is a close cousin of projection is projective identification. It's when we project the disavowed, discarded, shameful parts of ourselves, we project them onto others, we attribute them to others, and then we force these people to behave in a way which confirms our projections and our prejudices.

So for example, if I'm malevolent, if I'm malicious, I would say that my partner is malevolent and malicious and abusive, and then I would behave in a way which would provoke her to behave malevolently, maliciously and abusively, thereby confirming my attribution, confirming the projection.

Similarly, if I'm weak, if I'm spineless, if I'm a coward, if I'm cravenly, I would attribute all these unacceptable traits to another party, to my friend, to my colleague, to my partner, to my children, to anyone. I would attribute these traits and these behaviors, which I find unacceptable in me to someone else.

And then I would try to force that someone else to behave in a way which is cowardly, which is weak, which is submissive, for example, by threatening her or by creating an environment of intimidation.

The third mechanism, projection and projective identification are actually one and the same.

Projective identification is just taking projection one step further.

The third mechanism is known as reaction formation.

Reaction formation is protesting too much, protesting your innocence when there is no reason or call for it.

So, for example, if you are a latent homosexual, you would become homophobic. You would display ostentatiously your hatred of homosexuals, thereby trying to convince others and maybe yourself as well that you are not homosexual.

Similarly, a misogynist would keep saying, "I really love women. I adore women. I worship women. I admire women. Women are wonderful," etc., trying to convince others and himself that he is not a misogynist. A racist would say, or an anti-Semite would say, "Some of my best friends are Jews. Blacks have some good qualities. It's a way of distancing yourself from the parts of yourself, your values, your beliefs, your traits, your behaviors, your upbringing, your education, parts of yourself that you know are not socially acceptable and are condemned by society and sometimes even penalized. Parts of you that can lead you to trouble, parts of you that can cause censure and opprobrium and criticism by others, parts of you that may endanger your career, prevent your promotion, cost you something, rupture your relationships.

So, a part of you that you can in no way identify with and own, then you engage in reaction formation, protesting your innocence, declaiming and promulgating to the whole world how it's wrong to consider you a racist or a misogynist or whatever.

Again, this is reaction formation.

These are the mechanisms that are intended to restore calm and quiet and tranquility internally by falsifying reality, by falsifying your perception of other people, projection, by forcing them to behave in ways which are alien to them, projective identification, or by presenting a false facade of who you truly are internally, falsifying your public image impression management.

My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Sunflower, Narcissism Revisited.

According to Freud and his followers, our psyche is a battle-trip between instinctual urges and drives, the id, the constraints imposed by reality and the gratification of his impulses, ego, and the norms of society, the superego.

This constant infighting generates what Freud called neurotic anxiety, the fear of losing control, and moral anxiety, guilt and shame.

But these two are not the only types of anxiety, there's also reality anxiety and this is the fear of genuine threats.

Reality anxiety combines with neurotic anxiety and moral anxiety to yield a morbid and surrealistic inner landscape.

These multiple recurrent mini-panics are potentially intolerable, overwhelming, and destructive, hence the need to defend against them.

There are dozens of defense mechanisms.

Narcissism actually is a defense mechanism. The narcissist defends against the pain and hurt against abuse and trauma by inventing a false self. The false self is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, almost divine, everything the narcissist is not.

So it's a defense mechanism.

But narcissists have a monopoly of other defense mechanisms and we will describe them now.

Start with acting out.

When an inner conflict, most often frustration, translates into aggression. It involves acting with little or no insight or reflection and in order to attract attention and disrupt other people's cozy lives.

Then there is denial.

They have the most primitive and best known defense mechanism.

People simply ignore unpleasant facts. They filter out daytime and content that contravene their self-image, prejudices and preconceived notions of others, of the world.

Then there is devaluation, attributing negative or inferior traits or qualities to others or to self. This is done in order to punish the person devalued and to mitigate his or her impact on an importance to the devaluer.

Narcissists often devalue.

When the self is devalued, it is a self-defeating and self-destructive act. There is displacement. Displacement is when we cannot confront the resources of our frustration, pain and envy.

And then we tend to pick a fight with someone weaker or irrelevant and thus less menacing.

Children often do it because they perceive conflicts with parents and caregivers as life threatening.

Instead, they go out and torment the cat or bully someone at school or lash out at their siblings. They displace. Dissociation is a well-known defense mechanism.

Our mental existence is continuous. We maintain a seamless flow of memories, consciousness, perceptions and representation of both inner and external worlds.

When we face horrors and unbearable truths, we sometimes disengage, detach, vanish for a minute. We lose track of space, time and the continuum of our identity. We become someone else, with minimal awareness about surroundings, of incoming information and of circumstances.

In extreme cases, some people develop a permanently-rented personality. This is known as dissociative identity disorder, before it was called multiple personality disorder.

Then there is fantasy. Everyone fantasizes now and then. It helps to fend off the drieriness and drabness of everyday life and to plan for an uncertain future.

But when fantasy becomes a central feature of grappling with conflict, it is pathological.

Seeking gratification, the satisfaction of drive or desires, mainly by fantasizing, is an unhealthy defense.

Narcissists, for instance, often indulge in grandiose fantasies which are incommensurate with their accomplishments and abilities. Such fantasy-like retards personal growth and development because it substitutes for true coping.


Another defense mechanism in the arsenal of the narcissists that, to a lesser degree, the borderline, the histrionic, is the attribution of positive, glowing and superior traits, both to self or, more commonly, to other people.

Again, what differentiates the healthy from the pathological is the reality test.

Imputing positive characteristics to self or others is not a bad thing, but only if the attributed qualities are real and grounded in a firm grasp of what's true and what's not.

A lesser known defense mechanism is isolation of affect.

Isolation of affect, cognition, thoughts, concepts, ideas. Their cognition is never divorced from emotion. Conflict can be avoided by separating the cognitive content, for instance, a disturbing or depressing idea from its emotional correlate.

The subject is fully aware of the facts or of the intellectual dimensions of a problematic situation, but feels numb.

Casting away threatening and discomforting feelings is a potent way of coping with conflict in the short term. It is only when it becomes habitual that it is rendered self-defeating and pathological.

So, separating one's thinking from one's emotions is isolation of affect.

There is omnipotence, when one has a pervading sense and image of oneself as incredibly powerful, superior, irresistible, intelligent and influential. This is not an adopted affectation, but an ingrained, ineradicable inner conviction, which borders on magical thinking.

It is intended to fend off expected hurt in having to acknowledge one's shortcomings, inadequacies or limitations.

A very famous defense mechanism is projection.

We all have an image of how we should be. Freud called it the ego ideal.

But sometimes we experience emotions and drives or have personal qualities which don't sit well with this idealized construct of ours.

Projection is when we attribute to others these unacceptable, dis-confirming and ill-fitting feelings and traits that we ourselves possess.

This way we disown these discordant features and secure the right to criticize and chastise others for having or displaying them.

When entire collectives, nations, groups, organizations, clubs, firms project, Freud calls it the narcissism of small differences.

Another is projective identification. Projection is unconscious. People are rarely aware that they are projecting onto others their own ego-syntonic and unpleasant characteristics and feelings.

But sometimes the projected content is retained in the subject's awareness.

This creates a conflict. On the one hand, the patient cannot admit that their emotions, traits, reactions and behaviors that he so condemns in others are really his own.

On the other hand, he cannot help but be self-aware of this. He fails to erase from his consciousness the painful realization that he is merely projecting. That he is actually what he condemns in others.

Instead of denying it, the subject explains unpleasant emotions and unacceptable contact as reactions to the recipient's behavior.

Such people say, "She made me do it." And that is the battle cry of projective identification of abusers.

We all have expectations regarding the world and its denizens. Some people expect to be loved and appreciated. Others expect to be feared and abused.

The left-type behave obnoxiously and thus force their nearest and dearest to hate, fear and abuse them exactly as they had expected. Thus vindicated, their expectations fulfill, they calm down. The world is rendered once more familiar by making other people behave the way that they expect them to. "I know you would cheat on me," they say. "It was clear I couldn't trust you." And having said it often enough, surely the spouse would cheat.

Rationalization or intellectualization is one of the first defense mechanisms to have been described.

To cast one's behavior after the fact in a favorable light is what rationalization or intellectualization is all about.

To justify, to explain one's conduct, or more often misconduct, by resorting to rational, logical, socially acceptable explications and excuses.

Rationalization is also used to re-establish egosyntony, inner peace and self-acceptance.

Though not strictly a defense mechanism, cognitive dissonance may be considered a variant of rationalization. It involves speech apps which amount to the devaluation of things and people very much desired and frustratingly out of one's reach and control.

In a famous fable, a fox, unable to snag the luscious grave sick of it, says "These graves are probably sour anyhow." And this is an example of cognitive dissonance in action. We devalue that which we cannot attain.

Reaction formation, adopting a position and mode of conduct that defy personally acceptable thoughts or impulses by expressing diametrically opposed sentiments and convictions.

Example, a latent, closet homosexual finds his sexual preferences deplorable and acutely shameful. Ego distoni.

So what does he do? He resorts to homophobia. He publicly berates thorns and baits homosexuals.

Additionally, he may flaunt his heterosexuality by emphasizing his sexual prowess, by frowling singles bars for easy pickups and conquests. This way he contains and avoids his own unwelcome homosexuality.

Repression is the removal from consciousness of forbidden thoughts and wishes. The removed content does not vanish. It remains as potent as ever, fermenting in one's unconscious. It is liable to create inner conflicts of anxiety and provoke other defense mechanisms to cope with ease.

A very, very famous defense mechanism which is often used by narcissists and other people with other personality disorders, for instance, born in London, is splitting. Splitting is a primitive defense mechanism.

In other words, it begins to operate in very early infancy. It involves the inability to integrate contradictory qualities of the same object into a coherent picture.

Mother has good qualities in bed. Sometimes she is attentive and caring. Sometimes she is distracted and cold.

The baby is unable to grasp the complexities of her personality. Instead, what the infant does, he invents two constructs, two entities.

There is a bad mother and a good mother. The infant relegates everything likable about mother to the good mother.

In contrast, good mother with bad mother, the repository of everything he dislikes about her.

This means that whenever mother acts nicely, the baby relates to the idealized good mother. And whenever mother fails the test, whenever she disappoints the baby, the baby devalues her by interacting in its mind with bad mother.

These cycles of idealization followed by devaluation are common in some personality disorders, notably narcissistic personality disorders.

Splitting can also apply to one's self.

Patients with personality disorders often idealize themselves fantastically and grandiosely only to harshly devalue hate and even harm themselves when they fail or otherwise frustrated.

Sublimation is the conversion and channeling of unacceptable emotions into socially conformed behavior.

Freud described how sexual desires and urges are transformed into creative pursuits or into politics.

And finally, undoing. Undoing is trying to rid oneself of knowing feelings of guilt by compensating the injured party either symbolically or actually.

All these defense mechanisms operate within the narcissist.

What a battle film his psyche is.

The main insight of psychoanalysis has been and is that we are our worst enemies for three reasons.

Number one, we are the only ones with unfettered access to our own consciousness.

Number two, we are capable of self-deceit, which is the topic of today's video.

And number three, and this is the most important one, no external enemy can be as pernicious, virulent, vindictive and damaging as we can.

We can and very often become self-destructive, self-defeating, self-harming and self-trashing to extremists.

Suicide comes to mind and suicidal ideation.

This insight of psychoanalysis, that there is a civil war within and it is the permanent state of being human, underlies all of modern psychology, even those who disparage psychoanalysis.

Because we know now that therapy, psychotherapy is a way to provide us with this exact insight, how we undermine ourselves, how we deceive ourselves and how we can stop doing both.

Psychological defense mechanisms are widely thought to be the main instruments of self-deceit.

As we shall see later in this video, it's not entirely true, but it is largely true.

And it raises a fascinating question, question of evolution. Why would evolution allow for self-deception? Why would evolution let us miss perceive reality? Isn't this detrimental to survival?

It's an evolutionary conundrum and we will try to solve it.

Now, I'm not the first one, and Freud was not the first one, to suggest that man is capable of self-deceit.

Go back to Demosthenes in 349 before Christ, when he wrote, "Nothing is more easy than to deceive oneself what a man wishes he generally believes to be true."

And of course, a woman too. Jean Jacques, the great lover of humanity, the father of the noble savage, wrote, "Nature never deceives us, it is always we who deceive ourselves."

My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, and former visiting professor of psychology.

The defense mechanisms were first described by Freud, Anna Freud, reminds me of Bond, James Bond.

So, Anna Freud, she is actually the mother of defense mechanisms.

Defensive organization is the totality of the defensive processes, including the defense mechanisms, operating within the ego of a particular individual.

And that of course tells you that there are many other forms of defenses.

At the time, Freud suggested that there is something called defensive neurosis, or neurosis of defense, which I will not go into right now.

By the way, the word for defense in German is "adwehr", which was the intelligence arm of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

This is how German psychology is.

Now, defenses are not pathologies. I repeat because it's going to shock many of you.

Psychological defense mechanisms are not pathological, although they can be psychogenic. They can lead to a pathology.

Defense mechanisms feature in many etiology-pathologies, but they in themselves are actually adaptive. They help us to somehow survive in a reality which is often unbearable, intolerable, and threatening.

Like everything else in human psychology, defense mechanisms can go awry. They can become pathologized. They can become rigid, overgeneralized, extensive, age-inappropriate, and generally maladaptive.

If they do or when they do, they interfere with other ego functions, most notably reality testing.

So, as they are, defense mechanisms are actually forms of adaptation. What is positive adaptation?

And what is the role of defense mechanisms?

The main role of defenses is to separate internal reality from external reality.

Think of defense mechanisms as an antivirus program or a firewall or an anti-malware program.

The defenses make sure that the interface between internal reality and external reality is minimized in order to avoid conflict, real dangers, interpersonal failures, and anxiety.

Defense mechanisms, therefore, are anxiolytic. Their main function is to reduce anxiety.

But why do we need to separate internal reality from external reality?

Because internal reality sucks. In the vast majority of people, internal reality is a space populated by uncontrollable instincts and impulses and drives by pain, hurt, guilt, shame, fear, and anxiety.

Internal space is seething with what we call negative affectivity and ego destiny.

If we were to let the internal environment interact unbridled, unfiltered with the external reality, we would have had mayhem and chaos. It would have been very dangerous for the individual because if you don't control your impulses, if you are reckless and defiant and contumacious, in essence, if you're psychopathic, you end badly. There are bad consequences for your actions.

Similarly, if you are driven and struck by pain and guilt and shame and fear, you are very unlikely to function appropriately or properly in your environment. Your self-efficacy is likely to be reduced.

And you are going to end up failing or defeated or punished somehow.

So there are real dangers here.

The aim of defense, psychological defense mechanisms, is to prevent this conflict with the human environment and inanimate environment. To protect the individual from the real dangers attendant upon the exercise of impulsive instincts and drives. To somehow disguise or mask or paper over or gloss over interpersonal failures lest they wreck relationships irrevocably and, as I said, to reduce anxiety.

So we can already see the defenses are dissociative in nature. There's a close affinity between defense mechanisms, psychological defense mechanisms, and dissociation. They leverage dissociation or incorporate dissociation many times.

And yes, the word is dissociation, not disassociation.

Okay, self-styled experts, not dissociation.

Okay, now what about people who are pathologized to start with?

For example, what about narcissists?

The narcissist, for example, doesn't have a functioning ego at all.

According to Anna Freud and many other scholars, which I will be quoting in this video, the residence of defense mechanisms is in the ego, or at the very least they collaborate with the ego somehow.

But the narcissist doesn't have a functioning ego. Consequently, he has only what we call primitive defenses.

In a minute, I will elaborate on the various levels of defenses, the hierarchy of defenses.

Similarly, borderline have a functional ego as distinct from the narcissists, but their defenses are either primitive or compromised as well. In both cases, narcissists and borderlines, we're faced with a situation of an absence of mid-range and higher order or higher level defenses.

And the reason, of course, is the stunted growth, what used to be called the arrested development of narcissists and borderlines, because defenses evolve with age. They are age appropriate. Splitting is appropriate to the ages of six months to 36 months.

Other defenses develop in adolescence and even in young adulthood. If you don't grow, if you are not allowed to separate, to individuate, to develop personhood, a self, or at least a coherent assemblage of self-states, if you are not allowed to traverse the trajectory of self-development and self-growth because of bad parenting or adverse childhood experiences, then you are not likely to develop mid-level and higher level defenses. You're likely to remain stuck with the defenses of infancy and toddlerhood.

And this is what we're dealing with. Narcissists and borderlines are kids, they're children.

Defenses, it's important to reiterate, are not only defenses. They play a role in the normal psychic structure formation.

For example, Freud considered justly that introjection is a form of defense. I will not go into why right now, but he was right. Suffice it to say that he was right.

His view was widely adopted later by the object relations schools, starting with Melanie Klein and so on.

But introjection leads to the enrichment of the ego and especially the superego according to psychoanalytic theories.

And so introjection is a good thing and yet it is a defense.

Remember this, defenses are normal. They help you to develop a structural formation which is functional, healthy and good for the rest of your life.

This is the problem with narcissists and borderlines. They don't have the defenses needed in order to evolve and to create the inner structures which get integrated into what is called the self.

They don't, narcissist doesn't have an ego to start with.

So narcissists and borderline have a shattered, ruined inner environment and it is this way because they don't have age-appropriate corresponding defenses because they never get to grow up.

The contents of what is being defended against. What are defense mechanisms do?

I mentioned that they dissociate. Freud used to call it early on censorship. They censor.

My sister used to be the chief censor of the Israeli army by the way. So I know a thing or two about censorship. They censor information. What kind of information?

According to all thinkers and scholars involved in the study of defense mechanisms, defenses filter out unpleasurable experiences. Experiences which if they were to reach consciousness they would have made you feel bad, egodystonic, uncomfortable, even threatened. These unpleasurable experiences contradict the normative part of the personality, the superego.

Conscience. You have a conscience. This is exactly this kind of problem. The conscience is a cluster of introjects which is so powerful, so ingrained via the process of socialization, that it overcomes our defenses.

And when content from the conscious reaches consciousness we feel bad. We feel bad for something we have done. It's an unpleasant experience.

Normally defenses, the defenses would have blocked this information. You're a bad boy. You misbehave. You shouldn't have done it. They would have blocked this kind of information.

But the conscience augmented by socialization agents like parents, peers, teachers, society itself, and morality, religion, the conscience is too strong for the defense mechanism.

So we have an example here of what happens when defense mechanisms are disabled, inactivated, disempowered. We feel really really bad.

So they block unpleasurable information because it contradicts our morality, our conscience, our super ego. Or because they are representative of these thoughts, these ideas, these wishes. They are representative of wishes whose fulfillment would be dangerous to the individual or to the ego in the course of experience because of inevitable punishment.

Let me repeat this. The defense mechanisms block several types of information.

Number one, information that contravenes conflicts with the super ego and with our conscience.

Number two, information or actually wishes, drives, impulses, instincts that if we were to act on these, if we were to realize our wishes, we would have ended up being punished, sanctioned, in danger, threatened.

So the defense mechanisms, when they come across an instinctual wish, a drive, an urge, they block it. They block it because it's socially unacceptable or even criminal punishable.

This is the role of defenses. This is why narcissists, borderlines, let alone psychopaths, they have no impulse control because they have no age-appropriate adult defenses. They are in direct contact with their instincts, urges, and drives, and these overpower them, force them to act regardless of consequences.

When there is no dividing line, when there's no partition between the id, the seat of instincts and urges and drives and wishes, when there's no partition between the id and the ego, and this partition is the defense mechanisms, when there are no defense mechanisms, insulating the ego and reality from the id, when there are no defense mechanisms which prevent us from acting on our crazy, demented, antisocial drives and wishes and instincts and urges, then we end up deadly. We pay the consequences for our actions.

Now the ego knows this and that's why it prevents us from misbehaving.

In the case of narcissists, there's no ego. In the case of border lines, there is an ego, but there are no defenses, so the ego is in direct touch with the id.

In narcissism, there's only the id. In effect, there's only the id.

In borderline, there's an ego which is not protected from the id, not insulated from the id, and therefore under the sway of the id, and very often overtaken by the id. It's a kind of invasion.

So defenses are unconscious. They are unconscious because they stem from a conflict between the drive and the ego, between perception or representation and moral imperatives.

Our memories, our fantasies, our wishes, our drives, our instincts, our urges are always negated by morality, by social mores and conventions.

The ego is there to enforce them using the defense mechanisms in the unconscious as a tool of repression.

Indeed, initially, Sigmund Freud suggested that all defense, that repression is the only defense. Only much later, he came around to his daughter's view that defenses are actually myriad, but for a very long time, he believed that only repression is a defense.

And so defenses reflect an internal working model. Defenses have content, they're not only algorithms, they're not only action oriented, they are containers of content.

What is the content? The content is you are potentially a very bad person. I need to protect you from yourself.

So defense mechanisms reflect an internal working model of a bad object.

I'm going to repeat this because it's a bit revolutionary. Defense mechanisms represents the belief, reify the belief within the system, within the ego system, reify the belief that all human beings are bad objects, left to their own devices. They are immoral, they're dangerous, they engage, they are risk seeking, they are thrill seeking, they define what defense mechanisms tell you is everyone is a potential psychopath.

There's an internal working model that says in the absence of a controlling, domineering ego, in the absence of filtering, censoring, repressing and suppressing defense mechanisms. In the absence of these two, you're going to be a really, really bad person. You're going to be unworthy, you're going to be inadequate, you're going to catastrophically fail, you're a danger to yourself, you need to be protected from yourself. This is the message. This is the message of the defense mechanisms and the ego.

And that means that in narcissism where the ego is gone has never formed. And the defense mechanisms are too primitive, too infantile to cope with the exigencies and the vicissitudes of adult life.

In narcissism, therefore, what is left is the internal working model, I am a bad object. Now I need to compensate for this by pretending that I'm a good object.

This is the narcissist dilemma. That's his conundrum. That's a trap he's in.

Deep inside, he believes himself to be a bad object. He has what Adler called inferiority complex, shame, a huge reservoir of life threatening, shame, Morrison. Deep inside, in narcissism is a child's way, an infantile way of compensating for this, of showing to the world a false self, which is all good. It's a self splitting defense.

Narcissism is among the few surviving defenses of the narcissist. And splitting is inwardly directed. The narcissist splits himself.

So splitting is one of the surviving mechanisms.

The narcissist uses splitting to split himself. Internally, he's all bad. Externally, he's all good.

A similar process happens with border lines. They have a functioning ego, but their defenses are so primitive.

And one of the very few surviving defenses with border lines is splitting. So the border line splits herself. Internally, she's all good. Externally, she's all bad.

The narcissist and bad inside and good outside. The borderline and good inside and bad outside. Self splitting among the few defenses left to these pathological personality organizations.

And so the existence of defense mechanisms reflects a model of a bad object.

And to avoid ego, this tonic conscious contact with a bad object, the defenses remain unconscious.

So what I'm proposing here is an explanation why defenses are unconscious and not conscious. I will recap it for you. I know it's very difficult material. It's very difficult material because some of the things I'm saying are very new.

What does the ego say?

The ego says, "I need to protect you from yourself. I'm the reality principle. If I leave you to your own devices, you will die. You will destroy yourself. You will get punished. You will ruin your relationships. You're inadequate. You're a bad object." That's the message of the ego.

The defense mechanisms are the instruments of the ego. They're the tools of the ego to enforce discipline, to introduce reality in a way that will modify behavior and prevent from acting on impulses and instincts and drives and urges.

So there is a very dictatorial system, authoritarian system intended to control the bad object. If the defenses were conscious, then we would have been in touch with our own bad object because the defenses interface with the bad object. The defenses hold the bad object at bay. The defenses insulate and isolate the bad object. They fight back the bad object. They conflict with the bad object. So if they were conscious, we would have become aware of our own bad object. This would have driven us to commit suicide simply.

So to avoid this, to protect us from our own internal bad object, the defenses remain unconscious.

And the whole process of interaction with the bad object remains mercifully unconscious. To affect reality and to render it ego-conquering, defenses operate only via behaviors.

So we know that defenses exist because we observe behaviors that cannot be explained otherwise.

In short, defense mechanisms are a theoretical figment, an abstract or obstruction.

They account for many behaviors and so probably they exist.

I recommend that you watch my video on IPAM, the intra-psychic activation model.

Okay, so we figured out why the defenses are unconscious. It is in order to isolate us from the bad object inside and to prevent us from becoming suicide. Otto Fenneko in 1945 suggested a classification of defense mechanisms. He said that some of them are successful and others are unsuccessful.

Successful defense mechanisms allow for the expression of the instinctual drive so they never lead to neurosis.

An example of successful defense mechanisms are repressive inhibitions. Repressive inhibitions are not neurotic.

Let me try to explain this to laymen. You remember that the aim of the defenses is to prevent the instincts from being translated into action. So the defenses make sure that the instincts remain wishes but are never acted on.

So because the defenses repress instincts, don't allow drives and urges to manifest and to be converted into behavior because that's dangerous.

Because the defenses are preoccupied with this role, they create pathology. This pathology is known as neurosis.

But some defenses do allow instincts and drives, instinctual drives, urges and wishes. They do allow them to be expressed. They provide alternative modes of expression. These are known as sublimations or sublimatory channels.

The defense comes to the instinct and says "Hello instinct, how are we today?" Instinct said "I'm grumpy. I can't express myself and it's all because of you. This is coercive control. I'm going to report you to the police."

Defense mechanism says "Hold your horses instinct. Hold your horses. I have a proposition for you. I have a proposal."

"Okay" says the instinct. "What do you have in mind?"

And the defense mechanism says "Listen, I know that you wish to do A. I know that you wish to do something A, but A is very dangerous to the individual. It's very dangerous to us. If you act on your impulse, if you express the instinctual drive, if you fulfill the wish and gratify the urge, you're going to end up in prison or dead.

Not a good idea, but I have a way for you to express yourself and your wishes. That is socially acceptable. Write a book, for example.

And so if you do this, you will feel fully gratified and satisfied and society will even applaud you and lord you for your efforts. You will be commended rather than condemned.

The instinct scratches its proverbial head and says "You know what, defense? You've outdone yourself."

I'm going to embark on writing a book. Write this very minute.

And this is the process of sublimation. Sublimation converts socially unacceptable instinctual drives and urges and so on and wishes into socially acceptable activities.

So these kinds of defenses are successful because they prevent apotheology, they prevent neurosis.

But the vast majority of defenses are actually unsuccessful. They simply block the drive and they have to be in operation all the time, 24/7.

Because if the defense mechanism were to go to sleep, the instinctual drive would take over and make you do horrible, delightful things.

You don't want that. You don't want that because you will be punished.

Freud called it "depastration." You'll be castrated, at least metaphorically speaking.

So you don't want this to happen to you.

And so these kinds of defenses, the unsuccessful defenses, are on watch all the time, 24/7, 60 seconds a minute.

And does this remind you of something?

Yes. Personality disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, they can be amply described as clusters of unsuccessful defenses protecting against a bad object inside which is affiliated with socially condemnable and socially sanctioned and punishable instinctual drives and urges and wishes.

Now defense mechanisms are organized in the hierarchy and I recommend that you, for those of you who want to go deeper, I recommend that you study the works of Traver and Chadwick, Calati, Perry, especially Perry, and Bond, Bernie, and Chioka. These are the authorities on defense mechanisms.

Perry and Bond in 2017 suggested a hierarchy of defenses, three levels, seven levels I think, but three three three strata, three layers of defenses.

The mature defense mechanisms are the most adaptive strategies. They maximize gratification and they allow relatively good conscious awareness of feelings, ideas, and behavior related consequences.

In short, they are ego aligned. They are definitely ego-converant and ego-cohesive, ego-coherent, but they're also ego aligned. They are so integrated with ego that frankly it's very difficult to differentiate between them, these defenses and the ego.

So all defense mechanisms are fought to protect the individual from anxiety, as I said, but the mature defenses do not threaten interpersonal relationships and don't distort reality in order to become anxiolytic, in order to avoid anxiety or reduce or mitigate it.

The price paid for reducing anxiety is very, very minimal.

Now there's an intermediate level of neurotic defense mechanisms and they function to keep distressing thought content, cognitions, out of awareness. They involve minimal reality distortion as opposed to the mature ones. The mature ones don't.

The less mature ones, the neurotic ones involve reality distortion.

Now the lowest level of defenses, they are maladaptive or immature or primitive defenses, usually originating in very, very, very early childhood, up to age 36 months and some of them even before the age of six months. So these defenses act through strong reality distortion or even total detachment from reality. They impair reality testing dramatically. They are associated with mental health problems and lower interpersonal functioning. They are characteristic, for example, of severe mood and anxiety disorders and of course they are associated, they operate a lot in personality disorders.

Now there is one special category of mental illness which has an effect on the way defense mechanisms operate and this mental illness is colloquially known as depression. Depression of course is a family of depressive illnesses, so quite a few of them.

Now depression, in depression, the immature defense category is mostly in operation and it is divided into depressive and non-depressive defenses. Depressive defenses have been empirically associated with depression, whereas non-depressive defenses are negatively associated with depression.

Perry did some work with the Hoagland about this. In depressed patients, the use of the immature primitive defenses decreases by the end of treatment, so we know that they have something to do with the depression itself, but no treatment of depression has any effect on the neurotic and mature defenses. They remain unchanged, at least according to studies by Mullen.

Within the immature or primitive defenses, the subgroup of depressive defense mechanisms is linked to decreases in depression symptomatology when treatment is successful. That's a very recent discovery by Perry in 2020.

Okay, I'm going to summarize for you all the types of defenses and then I'm going to take you on a tour of very very counterintuitive, unusual, bizarre cases of defense.

Okay, now defensive categories are mature, neurotic and immature. You remember, yes?

So let's start with the mature.

It's level seven. They are also known as high adaptive defenses and they involve affiliation, altruism, anticipation, humor, self-assertion, self-observation, sublimation and suppression.

The neurotic ones, level six and level five, level five is divided to hysterical and other neurotic, never mind. So the neurotic ones are isolation of effects, intellectualization, undoing, it's very common in obsessive compulsive disorder, repression, dissociation, reaction formation and displacement.

The immature or primitive defenses are level four, three, two and one and they're divided, as I said, to non-depressive and depressive.

Now the non-depressive immature defenses involve idealization of self-image, idealization of other's image, devaluation of self-image, devaluation of other's image, omnipotence, denial, rationalization, projection and autistic fantasy.

The depressive immature defenses involve splitting of self-image, splitting of other's image, projective identification, passive aggression, help rejecting, complaining and acting out. Yes, acting out is a very primitive defense.

Now we commonly think of defenses in ways which are, you know, splitting and projection, projective identification and so on. These are very common and everyone in this talk is an expert on these defenses.

There's a lot of misinformation and nonsense online, again warning. But I'm going to describe to you today outliers, special cases of defense.

Just to demonstrate to you how all pervasive defenses are, there isn't an area of our mental space and mental life untouched by defenses at one point or another.

Dozens of defenses operate all the time around the clock in the background. Others are activated as per need. Self-states are associated with specific defenses via introjects and constructs.

Again, see my video on IPAM, intrapsychic activation model.

Let's start with altruistic surrender.

You ever heard of this defense? I bet you haven't.

Altruistic surrender is when an individual is barred from an attractive partner. So an individual is attracted to a partner, but for some reason can never get her, can never become her intimate or his intimate partner. So the individual is barred from the attractive person by virtue of some reality situation or internal conflict or whatever.

At that point, this frustrated individual who cannot have a relationship with the person he desires or she desires, at that point they actively aid a rival towards success with that person.

So I want a woman very much. I can't have her either because of some real constraints or because I have an internal conflict or because she has an internal conflict. I can't have her for some reason. Then I will have my rival to have her. I will have another man to have her.

So this is known as altruistic surrender.

The defense makes sure that the person who does this gains satisfaction through identification with the beneficiary of his altruism and from the sense of control in determining who wins the desired object.

And that's an example of defense.

Now this is very frequently confused with cathectedry. It is not actually.

In cathectedry, the person involved derives pleasure from either a masochistic sense of self-punishment or from observing the proceedings, like observing pornography kind of.

Atreistic surrender is a defense mechanism. So it's unconscious and it yields egosyntony, satisfaction and gratification and a sense of control.

So here's an example of a bizarre defense mechanism which I bet you never heard of.

None of you, even the professionals among you, I'm sure never heard of altruistic surrender.

Let me give you another example.

A defense against envy.

According to Melanie Klein in 1957, the main defenses against envy are number one, contempt and devaluation. Number two, omnipotent control. And number three, narcissistic withdrawal, schedule response.

Contempt and devaluation. It's when the subject seeks to diminish his estimation of the object.

That way, it resolves the cognitive dissonance and reduces anxiety, but it's a defense against envy.

Similarly, by exerting omnipotent control, the subject forcibly takes over the envy and the envy producing qualities of the object.

The subject says I'm superior to the object, not by devaluing the object, but just by declaring himself omnipotent and controlling.

And narcissistic withdrawal means that the subject shuns envy-arousing objects and in this way reduces his suffering. Though evident in individuals with severe personality disorders, the use of these mechanisms is most marked in narcissistic personalities, of course.

Let's proceed.

Have you ever heard of the defenses against goodness?

Goodness me, I need a drink. It's water, not vodka.

Have you ever heard of psychological defense mechanisms against goodness?

I bet you you haven't. It was described by Roy Schaeffer in 2002, and he was drawing on Kleinian ideas of goodness in the depressive position.

You see, when you're depressed, you don't think of yourself as a good object. You're in the throes of being in direct touch with your bad object. When you're depressed, you think of yourself as a failure, as a loser, as incorrigible, as hopeless and helpless. So you are totally bad object.

But what to do with the good parts of you? There are good parts of you, you can't deny them, but you want to deny them because as someone with depression, you need to think only the worst about yourself, with regards to yourself. So you need to do something with these good parts.

And this is where there are defenses against goodness in the depressive position.

Omnipotence, greed, envy, are set aside in favor of concern, gratitude, reparation, altruism, charity.

Because a depressive person cannot countenance and tolerate his own goodness, it is worded off by these defense mechanisms.

In 1946, Melanie Klein wrote that endangered good aspects of the self can be deposited into other people for safekeeping during the depressive phase.

Like I'm depressed right now, I can't think of myself as in any good way. Can you please hold on to my good aspects?

And when I'm out of my depression, remind me how good I am. This is Melanie Klein's idea. And Gregory Hamilton in 1986 elaborated on this Kleinian notion and he called it positive projective identification.

Schaeffer, however, in 2002 emphasized that in approaching the depressive position, one can develop massive reactions against feeling, believing in, and avowing openly personal goodness and the goodness of one's primary objects. And then one tends to hide what is good in oneself and attribute it to others. One also curtails attitudes that would elicit goodness from others towards oneself.

All this is done to ward off the anxiety consequent upon renouncing narcissistic and sadomasic pleasures and bearing the sweet burden of gratitude and of making reparation to others.

Here you are defenses against feeling good, defenses against feeling that you are a good object, that you are a good person. There are defenses against this, especially when you're depressed.

Now, what about mental pain?

There are defenses against mental pain.

Salman Akhtar, the guy who co discovered covert narcissism, Salman, together with Cooper, the late Cooper, he died two years ago, I think, Salman Akhtar in 2000 wrote a paper about mental pain. He noted that many defenses can be used against mental pain. It's a disturbing experience.

And each of these defenses can have a pathological or healthy outcome depending upon the interest psychic and social context and upon whether they ultimately permit warning to take place or not.

Again, we come to the issue of grief.

Essentially, these defenses include the following.

Number one, psychic retreat and self holding. If this is accompanied by a sense of futility and generalized inhibition of drive and ego functions, then the outcome is pathological.

However, if the retreat, the withdrawal, the avoidance, they are transient, focal, and they're accompanied by an effort to sort out the ego weakening that has resulted from pain, then the outcome is not so bad after all. It's healthy.

Number two, defense against mental pain, denial and manic defense. If this leads to psychic numbing, I refer you to work by Kogan in 1990. If this leads to psychic numbing, substance abuse, promiscuity, then the knowledge of what is going on in the internal reality is diminished and the outcome is pathological.

However, if the manic defense involves only the unaffected sector of the personality, then it can serve as an umbrella under which the pain ridden part can carry out morning grief in a piecemeal, incremented, graduated fashion. And that's very healthy.

Actually, these defenses are the bedrock of healthy, normal grieving.

And it is the absence of these defenses in narcissism that creates the prolonged grief syndrome, aka narcissistic personality disorder, same when it comes to borderline.

Akhtar continues and says that another defense or set of defenses against mental pain is extrusion of pain and its induction into others. To a limited extent, self-protective indignation and even rage in the face of mental pain can serve adaptive purposes.

But of course, if they go too far, they become pathological. They endanger the individual. They place the individual at risk.

So these defenses can actually end up contravening or confronting the ego.

Number four, changing the form or function of pain. Such alterations can yield both pathological and healthy outcomes, as usual.

Among the pathological outcomes are concretization. I refer you to work by Bergman in 1982.

Concretization is another name for acting out. Acting out is a way of changing the form or the function of the pain.

Physicalization, that is turning the mental pain into physical pain via somatization or somatophone disorders.

Libidization, Fenneke in 1934 was the first to describe it.

And at the same time, there's also some change of function vis-a-vis mental pain. And it prepares the ground for the creative sublimation of mental pain.

These are all examples of how pain provokes defenses, envy provokes defenses, and even the inability to get an intimate partner. The inability to end up with a desired intimate partner creates defenses.

Now, Coad, Heinz Coad in 1977 wrote extensively about defensive and compensatory structures. He described psychological structures built in early childhood to deal with a primary defect in the self.

I will quote Coad, although I profoundly disagree with him and with you about the existence of a self, but I will quote him all the same.

Of course, it's a very influential figure.

Coad wrote, "I call a structure defensive when its sole or predominant function is the covering over of the primary defect in the self. I call a structure compensatory when rather than merely covering a defect in the self, it compensates for this defect."

So what does he mean? How can we tell the difference? They sound very much the same.

So let's consider, for example, the bipolar self.

Bipolar self is, Coad was great at coining phrases.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a phrase coined by Coad.

Bipolar self is, was coined by Coad.

Coad said that in the bipolar self, there is a weakness of one pole of the self, example, exhibitions, and it is made up for by the strengthening of the other pole, for example, the pursuit of ideals.

So this is his example of the difference between defense and compensation.

Compensation is when we find a way to not experience the defect, the pain, the guilt, the shame, the fear, the social dysfunction, the social anxiety, social shame, etc. We find a way to do this and it's his idea of compensation is very reminiscent of the idea of sublimation in Fennico's work.

Okay, Lacan, when he does discuss defenses, opposes defenses to resistances. He says correctly, by the way, that many, many psychoanalysts confuse resistance with defense. Resistances are transitory, according to Lacan, resistances are transitory, imaginary responses to intrusions of the symbolic and they are on the side of the object.

Defenses are more permanent symbolic structures of subjectivity, but Lacan doesn't call them defenses, by the way, as I said earlier, he calls them fantasies.

Okay, just to confuse everyone, Lacan was great at confusing everyone, first and foremost himself. The amount of nonsense this man spewed is defiled logic.

However, you know, like in every garbage heap, you do find pearls and diamonds here and there.

Now, Lacan's way of distinguishing between resistance and defense is a total, the total antithesis, total opposite of all other psychoanalysts because Lacan liked to be the total opposite of everything moving. He thought it made him special.

Am I hinting that he was a narcissist?

Go online, find a photograph of Lacan in his later years and you will see my spitting image, my identical twin, I swear. I myself was misled into thinking that these were my photos.


Okay, so I'm implying that he's a narcissist. Yes.

Lacan's way of distinguishing resistance from defense is exactly the opposite of all other psychoanalysts because in all other schools of psychoanalysis, they distinguish between resistance and defense rarely and when they do, they regard defenses as transitory phenomena and resistances as more stable.

I will not go into it right now because I think resistance, I'm in this sense Lacanian actually, I think resistances are temporary and transitory and defenses are permanent structures of the personality.

I will not go into all this.

The ego psychology movement starting in the 1950s in the United States, people like Heinz Hartmann, for example, they develop a theory of the ego in connection with the problem of adaptation and he described personal development in terms of a conflict-free ego sphere and an autonomous ego that is not in conflict with anything and anyone internally or externally.

This was quite a departure from Freud and Anna Freud and so on.

In this movement of ego psychology, the psychic functioning in general is considered in terms of defense and the quest for equilibrium.

So in ego psychology, defenses are very critical, much more critical than in psychoanalysis.

The Venice-Pitz located the first defense in the emergence of what he called the second organizer, the eight-month or stranger anxiety.

He explained that these defenses serve and I'm quoting him, serve primarily adaptation rather than defense in the strict sense of the term.

When the object is established and ideation starts, the function of these defenses change and functions change and with the fusion of the aggressive and debatable drives, some defense mechanisms, particularly identification, acquire the functions that they serve later in adulthood.

When Anna Freud was publishing her first psychoanalytic works, Melanie Klein, who by the way was never, was not, is not a psychologist, was never a psychologist, Melanie Klein broke with Freudian orthodoxy because she claimed that the psyche and the ego are primordial, that they are archaic, archaic functions, they don't form, you're born with them, etc., etc.

And the agencies of the psyche begin to function much earlier and so on and so forth.

But Klein introduced a perspective that restored to anxiety and psychic conflict a fundamental role in the theory of drives. That's her main contribution, I think.

She reintroduced or reminded us how critical the issue of conflict is and how we do everything we can to avoid or evade anxiety.

She drew on Freud's second theory of drives and she attributed the central role to the death drive and the conflicts between love and hatred.

We don't have to accept this, but she had amazing insight into the very fact that we are in a constant state of impending dissonance. We're all the time on the verge of anxiety, all the time we conflict with reality and internally.

And so she developed her ideas on early defense mechanisms that were already present in her view in the earliest months of life during what she called the paranoid schizoid position.

The concept of defense sees Freud become today common in clinical psychology and in psychoanalysis. It is one of the heritages of psychoanalysis together with, let's say, the unconscious.

Defense refers to either a relatively conscious behavior that rejects psychic reality, and it's more akin to resistance in this sense, or to a psychic impulse that seeks to avoid anxiety and unpleasant pleasure in the quest to adopt and achieve a state of equilibrium.

So in modern clinical psychology, some defenses can actually be conscious and they are more behavioral. It's the behavior itself that is defensive, but I don't think it's right. I don't think that's a psychological defense mechanism.

I think sometimes we are defiant and sometimes we self-deceive via behavior and sometimes we resist.

So things might be god-awful confusion here.

And it is because of this that in modern clinical psychology, the function of the defense of defenses as mechanisms necessary for psychic growth is either overlooked or negated even.

And catastrophic mistake is not true. It's wrong.

So a lot of what we teach at university nowadays is wrong, because we teach defense mechanisms and defenses as forms of pathology, or at least pathogenic.

The ego protects itself against the tendency towards conflict by means of something called counter-cafexes. And the counter-cafexes represents the supreme essence of the defense mechanisms.

So Hartmann in 1950 picked up this idea and he had the theory of autonomous functions of the ego. He argued that once the energy of counter-cafexes has been withdrawn from the tendency that caused the conflict, the conflict was neutralized.

According to Hartmann, the autonomous processes, organization, cathexes, delay, can be the precursors of defense mechanisms.

In general, neurotic defense mechanisms constitute an exaggeration or a distortion of regulating and adaptive mechanisms.

So the ego psychology movement actually ended up supporting anaphroids views, only embedding these views in a global theory of the ego. It's an autonomous entity, borrowing in a way from Melanik line, is an autonomous entity on the one hand, and a self-regulating one.

And at the disposal of the ego, there are the defense mechanisms which can go awry, be exaggerated and distorted, and then we have the pathologies.

And this is in line with anaphroids view.

Anaphroids said that every vicissitude to which the instincts are liable has its origin in some ego activity. Were it not for the intervention of the ego or of those external forces which the ego represents, every instinct would know only one fate, that of gratification.

And she wrote this in 1937. She identified at the time nine defense mechanisms.

And she suggested that we must add a tense defense which pertains rather to the study of the normal, rather than to the study of neurosis, sublimation or displacement of instinctual aims.

Today, as I told you, we have a list of 101 defenses.

Back to Melanik line, the adherents of the Kleine School, they believed the defense mechanisms take a different form in a structured ego from the one that they had assumed in a primitive unstructured ego, or what she called the undifferentiated ego.

In short, what she was saying, defenses evolve, defenses mature, new defenses are created, defenses transmute and transform from one shape to another, the shape shift.

And all this has to do with the formation of the ego, the integration and the differentiation of the ego, the breaking down of the ego if you wish.

So the ego initially is unstructured, it is protean.

And then you have very primitive defenses, the ego matures, the ego and the ego get differentiated.

And then you have mature adult defenses, defenses that become modes of mental functioning.

Susan Isaacs in 1948 said that all mental mechanisms are linked to fantasies, such as devouring, absorbing or rejecting.

And in this sense, she's a proto Lacanian.

Melanik line herself in 1952, again in 1958, she identified several primitive defenses.

And she used defense and defense mechanisms interchangeably.

And so, in a way, she contributed to the confusion that we have today between the concept of defense and the concept of psychic adaptation, defensive psychic adaptation, or enhancing psychic adaptation in the process of normal healthy maturation.

Okay, I gave you a brief uneven view of defenses.

The latter part, as you've noticed, was geared more at mental health professionals and practitioners.

The first part was I hope more for laymen. It's not easy to to tread the line between laymen and professionals to maintain this balance. I'm doing my best.

And I apologize to those of you who drifted off because of the language. I hope that the main takeaways from this video are clear.

Defenses are healthy. Like everything else, they can go awry. They protect against the bad object. Because they believe in the existence of a bad object, they have an internal working model of a bad object.

Consequently, they are unconscious.

Because if you get in touch with the bad object, you would want to commit suicide.

So the defenses are unconscious. They support the reality principle or reality testing. In short, they support the functioning of the ego, partly by actually distorting reality in order to suppress the instincts, urges, wishes and drives.

Ironically, the ego strikes a compromise with the defenses. I give you the right to impair reality testing, which is an ego function. On condition that you keep at bay under lock and key, the crazy instinctual drives, urges and wishes of this maniac whose ego I am.

My name is Stan Vaknin and I'm the author of the book Narcissism-Resistant.

My favorite narcissism YouTube channel is Spartan Life Coach.

Richard Graddon is witty, he's smart, he's funny, he's entertaining. But above all, he knows what he's talking about, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of self-styled experts with and without academic degrees.

Richard actually talks since he does his research and I enjoy his channel greatly. So a recent video he has made about a week ago dealt with a topic called "Projective Identification".

I met Richard in London two or three weeks ago. We were discussing a joint seminar at the end of September in London and the issue of "Projective Identification" came up in the conversation.

Richard is as charismatic and as sensitive I had imagined him to be based on his videos. And so the topic of "Projective Identification" was of great personal interest to him.

So I thought I would enlarge upon it, thought I'd elaborate on this pretty complex psychological defense mechanism.

Well, let's start with the narcissist's false self.

The narcissist's false self, as you all know by now, is grandiose.

The narcissist seeks to maintain his inflated fantasy of himself.

The narcissist denies, slices and splits off. He evacuates or projects onto other people, emotions, cognitions, thoughts, traits, impulses, behaviors and qualities that contradict his false self, contravene his inflated grandiose sense of himself.

In the idealization and devaluation phases, the narcissist also attributes to his sources of primary or secondary narcissistic supply, ideal and positive, or negative traits and behaviors, some of which he may actually possess.

So this is very complex. Let's try to break it down into steps and stages and into topics and sub-topics.

As I said, the narcissist has an inflated sense of himself.

But to maintain this inflated sense of himself, the narcissist must ignore or deny certain emotions. He must ignore or deny certain thoughts. He must ignore or deny certain traits, certain impulses, certain behaviors, certain qualities which contradict this self-perception as brilliant, as god-like, as perfect, as omnipotent, as omniscient.

It's hard to maintain this concoction, this piece of fiction, this narrative that is called the false self.

So what the narcissist does, he takes all these things that contradict his grandiose self and he throws them out, he projects them onto other people.

He says, "It's not me, it's not I. I'm not weak, I'm not stupid, I'm not out of control. It's not me, it's you, it's other people."

In the idealization and evaluation phases, the narcissist projects onto other people, positive traits when he idealizes them or negative traits when he devalues them.

So when he idealizes you, he would say that you're intelligent and when he devalues you, he would say that you're weak or stupid.

In the idealization stage, he would project positive ideal thoughts, positive ideal behaviors, positive ideal impulses, everything would be positive and ideal. And in the negative phase, in the evaluation phase, he would project onto you the exact opposite, negative things, demeaning things, berating things, humiliating things.

Additionally, with the narcissist there's a further complication.

The narcissist feels omnipresent, ubiquitous, all pervasive. The narcissist believes that he is the prime mover and shaker. He believes that he's the cause of all things. He believes that he is at the core, he is the engine, he is the be-all and end-all.

The narcissist is also convinced that everyone is exactly like him when it comes to negative emotions and motivations.

So for the narcissist to project, it's pretty easy because he believes that everyone is like him. So it's not a problem to assume that they are envious, they're full of hatred, they're full of rage, they are all like him, then it's easy to project onto them these negative emotions, negative traits, negative thoughts, negative impulses, urges, desires and so on and so forth.

The constant and facile projection of the narcissist's own traits, own fears, behavior patterns, beliefs and plans onto others, this comes to the narcissist naturally.

The narcissist is firmly convinced that he is the generator and regulator of other people's emotions, that they depend on him for their well-being, that without him their lives would crumble into grave mediocrity.

He regards himself as the most important component in the life, in the lives of his nearest and dearest.

So this confluence, this combination means that when the narcissist projects onto other people, he first believes that they are like him and so the projection is justified and correct. It conforms to reality, this is really how they are.

And secondly he believes that by project, or he's unconsciously convinced that by projecting, he's actually doing them a favor. He is jolting them, he's administering tough love, he is motivating them, he's moving them, he's shaking them, he's structuring and forming their lives, he is injecting content and interest.

Projection is a tool that the narcissist uses not only to penetrate other people, not only to get rid of inner processes, thoughts, impulses and so on that they cannot live with, but it's also a controlled instrument. It's also a way for the narcissist to control people around him.

To avoid painful contradictions with reality or cognitive dissonance and also to ameliorate his raging abandonment and separation anxiety, the narcissist aims to micromanage and control his human environment by subsuming it or by merging and fusing with it.

In this sense, narcissists are exactly like codependents, they both do this.

The narcissist's nearest and dearest are reduced to mere representations, avatars, extensions of himself, internal objects.

And this is where projected identification comes in, where it comes into play.

You remember we were discussing projection. Projection is a simple defense mechanism, I don't want to think of myself as weak, so I project it.

You are weak, I don't want to think of myself as angry, I'm not angry, you are angry, I don't want to think of myself as unfaithful, so I would suspect you of cheating on me, on being disloyal.

So it's projection, this is simple. It consists of the attribution of the narcissist's own psychological makeup, his own urges, his own desires and processes, inner processes to other people. That's easy to understand.

But projective identification also involves forcing the target of the projection to conform to the contents of the projection, forcing someone to actually become someone else, forcing someone to behave in ways prescribed by the narcissist.

This is called introjective identification.

The narcissist does projective identification, the recipient of the projective identification undergoes a process called introjective identification, where he becomes what the narcissist wants him to be.

In the idealization phase, the narcissist cajoles, coerces, extorts and incentivizes his chosen source of supply to transform himself into the kind of person that the narcissist presents. He wants her to be intelligent, he wants her to be strong, for example, in the idealization phase.

Similarly, in the devaluation phase, the target is manipulated to assume, to adopt and to exhibit the narcissist's shortcomings. The narcissist's unmanageable, chaotic and dysregulated emotions and behaviors. The narcissist's rage, envy, contempt, abusive conduct, shame, they are all projected onto the target and then the target is forced to behave this way, is forced to become envious, is forced to become abusive, is forced to become contemptuous. It's like body snatching, soul snatching.

The narcissist not only projects, but he uses the projection to mold the other person, to reconstruct the other person, to break the other person apart and put him back together differently in a way that will conform to the narcissist's projected content.

The narcissist rejects his rage, envy, contempt, abusive conduct, shame and so on and so forth. He rejects these things. He refuses to own them because they challenge his self-deception, his false self. They challenge his ability to regulate his lay by sense of self-worth.

So instead what he does, he takes these negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative urges, negative impulses and he farms them out. He outsources them to other people around him, but at the same time he pressures them to play act these roles in the screenplay of his life. He forces them to affirm what he knows about the world and what he knows about himself. He in other words uses them to buttress his comfort zone, his pathological narcissistic space.

They become convenient props, containers of unwanted beats of the narcissist persona and psyche. They become constant reminders of his own superiority and magnanimity as opposed to their base, decrepit, unjustifiable, indefensible behaviors, traits, urges, impulses and conduct.

Still it is important to realize that the material that is cast off in the process of projective identification remains a part of the narcissist.

Why is that?

If the narcissist cannot own these things, if he rejects them, if he throws them out, casts them off, why would they remain a part of him? If he forces other people to appropriate these things and to become these things, why would they still be a part of him?

Well that's because the people that this content is projected on, onto, these people are an integral part of the narcissist.

For the narcissist there are no others. He is the only real human being, he's the only real person. Other so-called people are extensions of himself. They are appendages, they are mere inner specters, they are apparitions, avatars, representations, inner objects, anything but not separate, autonomous human beings.

With the narcissist, projective and projective identification do not work because in his mental world there are no others. There is no reality out there. It's all in his mind. It's all part of a mega-theatly that is taking place on the stage of his mind.

Narcissist in this respect is a solipsist and his solipsistic worldview prevents him from successfully getting rid of what bothers him the most, his imperfection. He cannot take his imperfections and offload them onto other people because there are no other people. There's only the narcissist.

So with the narcissist, projective and projective identification are actually reallocation from one part of his psychology to another part, from his core base, from his false self onto the representations of other people inside him.

While normal people project outside to other people, while normal people may use projective identification with outsiders, outside themselves, narcissist uses projection and projective identification to manipulate inner objects, to force inner constructs, inner representations, inner avatars to behave in certain ways.

In other words, with a narcissist, projection and projective identification are internal, 100% internal processes which have to do with the narcissist's economy of mind with his energy economy.

This is good news because it means therapists can use projection and projective identification to manipulate the inner structures of the narcissist's soul to realign the narcissistic landscape. We'll talk about it in some later video when I expound on a new treatment modality of developing called cold therapy.

But this is only one aspect of the pathology.

The second aspect is malignant cynicism.

A healthy modicum of doubt and caution is well, healthy.

But the narcissist is addicted, addicted to excess doses of both doubt and caution.

To the narcissist, all people are narcissists. Others are simply hypocritical when they pretend to be normal, non-narcissist.

When people say I'm not a narcissist, they are simply lying, they're being hypocritical, or maybe not self-aware, or maybe just stupid. They are weak. They fear society's reactions, so they adhere to its edicts and behavior, moral cults and morals.

But in reality, everyone is a narcissist.

Just there are strong narcissists, self-assured narcissists, who are not afraid to admit that they are narcissists, and there are craven, cowardly narcissists who are too afraid of their own shadow in what society and the neighbors might say, and they don't admit that they are narcissists.

But everyone is a narcissist. Narcissist magically feels strong, immune to punishment, and invincible. He is able to express his true nature fearlessly and openly.

So if everyone is a narcissist, when the narcissist projects, he cannot see that he is projecting.

Because if everyone is like him, his projection is merely acknowledging reality.

In the narcissist world, there is no such thing as external projecting unto others. Not only because there are no others, not only because all others are inside him, not only because all others are extension, but because all others are identical to him. Identical to him, as far as motivation and so on.

I mean, he is much more intelligent, he is much stronger, he is much more experienced, of course, he is superior.

But when it comes to base emotions, base drives and impulses and urges, and so on, everyone is the same.

So the narcissist can never project. Projection is about, really, psychological difference, mechanism of projection, is about misidentifying other people's traits, qualities and behaviors.

But if they are the same, they are the same like the narcissist. There can be no misidentification. Whatever the narcissist says about other people must be true, because they are all one and the same.

This is the narcissist complex inner landscape. The narcissist does not inhabit an outer landscape. There is no world, there is no reality, there are no others. It's a complex intricate interplay inside the narcissist's tortured soul.

And projection and projective identification are the keys to healing narcissism. As I said, and as I promised, I'm putting the finishing touches to a new treatment modality, a new therapy, for narcissists.

And one of the key elements in this therapy is to use inner constructs and internal structures in the narcissist's psychology to actually transform the narcissist. Not necessarily to render him normal, but definitely to render him much happier and much more functional.

But it's too early to talk about this. Leave something for the next videos.

War regards to Richard Grannon, who sort of provoked me into this video. And if we do all the joint seminar together in London, probably on the 24th and 25th of September, I would be delighted to see you there.

Narcissists and psychopaths make use of two techniques of mind control.

The psychopath leverages these techniques knowingly, deliberately, intentionally, he is goal-oriented. The narcissist uses these techniques unconsciously. That's just the way he is. That's how he operates.

And so these techniques are in training and projective identification.

I've discussed in training in many videos on my YouTube channel to summarize.

In training is the repetition of musical notes or words in a way that synchronizes the brainwaves of the listener with the brainwaves of the emitter of the signal.

So when the abuser verbally abuses his victim, when he repeats the same refrains, the same phrases, the same words, the same exhortations, the same criticisms, the same threats, this constitutes entraining because it synchronizes the victim's brainwaves with the abuser's brainwaves, rendering them a hive mind, a single mind, the ultimate in mind control.

The second mechanism is a lot more complicated and a lot more nuanced and a lot more difficult to explain. It's known as projective identification.

And the problem in projective identification is the identification part of it.

The victim identifies herself with the narcissist's projected parts.

Now let's first explain projection.

Projection is when you have traits or emotions that you disown, that you reject, that you're not comfortable with, that you're ashamed of.

And then what you do, you take these traits and you take these emotions and you misattribute them to other people. You say, I'm not weak, he's weak. I'm not abusive, she's being abusive. That is projection.

Now projective identification involves projection.

The narcissist projects the traits and emotions that he rejects in himself or herself and misattributes these traits and emotions to the victim.

Now of course, whenever I say he, it's a she, half of all narcissists are women.

And then the projection having been completed, the victim becomes the parts that the narcissist had rejected.

The narcissist misattributes traits and behaviors to the victim and the victim owns them. He identifies with them. He accepts them as his own.

The victim becomes what the narcissist wants him to become. The victim becomes the part of the narcissist that the narcissist had rejected.

The traits and emotions and cognitions that the narcissist is ashamed of, that the narcissist rejects, that the narcissist renounces. These parts are owned by the victim. The victim is molded by the narcissist's projection.

Hence the word identification.

And then the victim begins to behave accordingly. He begins to conform to the parts of the narcissist that had been projected onto her.

The victim becomes the shadow of the narcissist, the rejected parts of the narcissist, the traits and behaviors and emotions and cognitions that the narcissist cannot countenance now become the victims.

And so, projective identification is a defense mechanism of the narcissist, but it ends up modifying the victim's behavior.

The victim becomes an extension of the part of the narcissist which the narcissist disowns, denies, represses, rejects, hates and is ashamed of.

Consequently, of course, the narcissist rejects, renounces and hates the victim because she now represents the part of him that he wouldn't like to acknowledge. She's a constant reminder of who the narcissist truly is and her behaviors having been modified by the narcissist validate and conform the narcissist's expectations of the victim, but at the same time constantly trigger the narcissist by reminding him who he really is.

Self-awareness is knowing who you are. It is not the same as authenticity. Authenticity is being who you are, acting who you are.

And yet in conditions of fear and terror and uncertainty, it is very difficult to be authentic. Fear precludes authenticity and so does pervasive uncertainty.

We are in the world where there is a war between the genders, between straight and LGBTQ, between minorities and majorities, between self-proclaimed victims and their putative abusers.

So what to do? Stay at home, stay celibate, stay single. Do not expose yourself to this crossfire. The world is not safe right now. It is time actually to be both self-aware and authentic and self-sufficient. It is time to stand back and review your priorities and your necessities and your needs and then to make a decision as to which level of risk you are ready to assume.

Because today to engage with other people is to risk your freedom and very often your very life.

Why do white supremacists are supposed to be concerned with maintaining and preserving the supremacy of the white race, whatever that may be, over other variants of the human species which according to white supremacists are inferior? So why do we see lately white supremacists, including the Proud Boys, attacking LGBTQIA+ people? Why do white supremacists focus their malign attentions and negative energy on other people's sexual preferences and sexual orientations?

The short answer is reaction formation.

Thank you for listening. No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Stay here. I'm going to explain everything to you. Don't run away.

Reaction formation is a psychological defense mechanism. There are two psychological defense mechanisms that laymen find very difficult to comprehend and even many scholars and psychologists. It's difficult to wrap your mind around these defense mechanisms because they are counterintuitive and exceedingly convoluted. Some of them operate in the unconscious, some of them operate in the interface between conscious and unconscious. It's a bloody mess.

And today we're going to discuss reaction formation.

The other defense mechanism is projective identification. And as usual, I have several videos about projective identification that I encourage you to look for.

Go to the magnifying glass. If you're on a PC, on your laptop, go to my channel. There's a magnifying glass symbol. Click on it and search the channel for projective identification. If you're on a smartphone, click on the downward arrow on the right hand side. It will roll down and you will see search. Click on the search of course and search for projective identification.

But today, we are not dealing with projective identification. We will be dealing with reaction formation.

Freud said that if you are at heart, secretly a homosexual, if you are a latent homosexual, if you did not out even to yourself, if you're still in the closet, if you are attracted to gay nudity, if you watch secretly, of course, or articiously, gay porn, and so on and so forth, Freud said there are two ways you can react to this.

You can be honest with yourself and say, well, probably I'm homosexual or bisexual. And I'm going to try it out. I'm going to see if it fits me.

And the other option is to broadcast to the entire world that you are not homosexual by becoming homophobic, by becoming an activist against homosexuals, against gay pride.

So Freud said that men who have a prejudice against homosexual, but an ostentatious prejudice in your face, public, and make a big deal out of it, actually are defending against their own homosexual tendencies and feelings by adopting a harsh anti-homosexual attitude in order to convince themselves, first of all, that they are not homosexual, they're heterosexual, and then to convince everyone else.

It's like, if I'm attacking homosexual, how can I be homosexual?

It goes to prove to me, first of all, that I'm not homosexual.

What about the dutiful daughter who loves her mother? And she loves her mother very overtly, very ostentatiously. She tells everyone how much she loves her mother. There are gestures, gifts. I mean, she's all over the place. Probably she's defending against a hatred of her mother.

It is unacceptable to hate your mother.

So there are two ways to go about it. You can go no contact with your mother, which I've done 26 years ago. Or you can pretend and lie and deceive yourself into believing that you actually love your mother inordinately and exceedingly. And to prove this to yourself, you engage in behaviors which affirm and confirm to you and to others around you that you actually love your mother. It's a defense.

And this is what reaction formation is all about, behaving in a way which denies hidden feelings and motivations which are unacceptable to you. Feelings and motivations which you reject in you.

Now, projection is very similar to this. There are parts of you that you reject and resent and don't accept. And so you attribute them to other people. You project them onto other people.

But reaction formation is not only about the passive attribution of elements of your own personality to other people. You're stingy, so you say other people are stingy. You're hateful, you say they are hateful.

So this is projection. But this is passive. This is merely observation. Reaction formation couples projection with action, behavior, choices, decisions, the very manifestations and protestations of innocence and of cleanse.

So where does all this come from?

Reaction formation clinically is what we call a fixation. Fixation is an idea that is in your consciousness, an effect, an emotion, a desire that is in your consciousness. And you can't get rid of it. It's a little like an intrusive thought, a little like a kind of thought that comes into your mind and you cannot erase it, you cannot delete it. So you cannot expunge these fixations.

Fixations are there to stay. And so these desires, these ideas, these effects or emotions, they are overt. They are in consciousness. You're aware of them. You promulgate them, you announce them, you share them with others. You make sure everyone knows about these ideas or emotions or beliefs or desires.

But they are false. It's not that you're lying to other people, you're also lying, maybe mainly lying, principally lying to yourself.

There is a feared, unconscious impulse, a part of you that is submerged and you're terrified of that part.

For example, your latent homosexuality, your hatred of your parents, your desire to be violent. These are all things that you may reject in yourself.

So you need to put on a facade, which is the exact opposite of these feared subterranean, surreptitious, unconscious impulses.

A mother, for example. Many mothers hate their children, newborns. That's why there is the phenomenon of postnatal depression. Many women regard the child as an intrusion, an annoyance. They are driven crazy by the child's insistent demands, especially in the first year. By his crying, the child becomes unwanted.

But a mother is not supposed to hate her child or to be angry at her child, especially if it's an infant or a toddler. So what such a mother does, she begins to feel guilty and she becomes exactly the opposite. She becomes indulging, she indulges the child, she spoils the child, she becomes solicitous and pampering and smothering and overprotective because she's trying to convince herself that her love for the child is unbounded and that she's a good mother who does not hate her child and is not enraged, enraged by the child's consistent demands.

It's another example of reaction formation.

Reaction formation was first proposed, as usual, by Zimun Freud. It was in German, "Reaktionen bildung".

It's clinically, technically, it's an ego defense mechanism. It's a defense mechanism that's affiliated with the ego. Emotions, impulses, beliefs, ideas, even images, effects, which are anxiety producing because they are, for example, socially unacceptable or because they are dangerous or risky. These kind of impulses, these kind of ideas and beliefs and emotions and so on and so forth have to be controlled, have to be mastered. It's very frightening to have lurking in your unconscious a time bomb, a time bomb which is ego-distonic, ego-incongruent. In other words, a time bomb which defies everything you believe yourself to be.

You consider yourself to be heterosexual and then there's this time bomb that is actually your hidden, latent, obscure homosexuality. It's terrifying. You need to control it. You need to master it. You need to repress it. You need to suppress it. You need to convert it and reframe it and transform it or do something with it. You need to do something with it because one of the things about time bombs, ultimately they explode and in reaction formation, we master these forbidden, hidden impulses by exaggerating in the opposite direction.

If I'm a latent homosexual, I will be a macho womanizer and I will show everyone there's not a trace or a hint of homosexuality in me. If I hate my child, I will show the whole world and myself first of all how much I love the child. If I hate my parents, I will be all over them, care for them, give them money, provide them with all the goods and services they can imagine just to show what a good son or daughter I am.

Behavioral negation of these forbidden impulses. It's the same with white supremacists. They're attacking LGBTQIA because for example, bromance is very common in these male only or male mostly groups. There are strong sexual dynamics in these groups denied, repressed, disavowed. These men are men's men. They are machos, they are with tattoos, they are with muscles, they're bodybuilding, they have weapons, weapons which are essentially phallic symbols, extensions of you know what. This is all about sexuality ultimately and so no wonder they are attacking people with alternative sexualities because they're terrifying of the possibility or the potential for such alternative sexualities inside themselves.

Reaction formation is a very strong neurotic defense mechanism. It is on the same level, level three, with dissociation, displacement, intellectualization, repression and so on and so forth.

A text about reaction formation.

The instincts and their derivatives may be arranged as pairs of opposites, life versus death, construction versus destruction, action versus passivity, dominance versus submission and so forth.

When one of the instincts produces anxiety by exerting pressure on the ego either directly or by way of the superego, the ego may try to sidetrack the offending impulse by concentrating upon its opposite.

For example, if feelings of hate towards another person make the hater feel anxious, the hater's ego can facilitate the flow of love, overt and ostentatious love, to conceal the hostility.

So this is the foundational text about reaction formation.

When we witness behaviors such as the ones recently with white supremacists, homophobic groups, and inside families, dynamics inside families, when we witness reaction formation, we can safely assume that the original rejected, resented, feared impulse does not vanish. It persists.

The reaction formation doesn't make you less homosexual, less hateful, less resentful. The reaction formation doesn't cleanse you, doesn't deactivate the time bomb inside you.

What it does, it pushes these impulses, forbidden emotions, sexual tendencies, fantasies, beliefs which you disown, which you hate and reject and resent. That's not me. That's absolutely not me.

Reaction formation doesn't remove these from consciousness. It just pushes these forbidden fruits into the unconscious. And there they persist in the original form, which is typically infantile.

So when we hate someone, when we hate our mother, when you hate your mother, you hate your father, it's socially unacceptable. You cannot sublimate it. There's no way to hate your father or hate your mother in a way that society will accept and condone, which is what sublimation is all about.

Sublimation is about converting your urges and drives and impulses into socially acceptable forms and formats. There's no way to do that.

And in many societies, there's no way to be gay or transgender in socially acceptable, in a socially acceptable manner. Societies, they're frowned upon this.

So these impulses, they are suppressed. And the overt behavior, the reactive formative behavior, "I am not a homosexual. Look, look how much of a heterosexual I am. I have another woman every week. See how much? How much I am not a homosexual?"

This is the overt behavior. This reaction formation doesn't substitute for the underlying latent homosexuality.

The original feelings, sexual feelings, aggression, socially unacceptable wishes, fantasies, forbidden fantasy, they exist. They exist under the surface, under the veneer, under the exterior of the observable behavior.

So this is not a process of substitution. It's not even a process of displacement. It's a process of masking and masking it not only from other people, but first and foremost, masking it from yourself, masking it from your own awareness, from your own consciousness.

If you're a latently homosexual and you date many women, you can lie to yourself. You can say, "You see? No way am I a homosexual. Look how many women I'm dating."

This is about convincing yourself first and foremost. The existence of reaction formation is very difficult to diagnose.

But one very important hallmark is it's over the top. It's exaggerated. It involves aggression and violence and compulsivity, compulsiveness and inflexibility.

So we have, for example, the text that "Reactive love protests too much. It is overdone, extravagant, showing and affected. It is counterfeit and is usually easily detected."

Another feature of a reaction formation is its compulsiveness. A person who is defending himself against anxiety cannot deviate from expressing the opposite of what he really feels.

His love, for instance, is not flexible. It cannot adapt itself to changing circumstances as genuine emotions do. Rather, it must be constantly on display, as if any failure to exhibit it would cause the contrary feeling, the lurking feeling, to come to the surface.

So it's both rigid and thespian, ostentatious, public, for public consumption.

And the number one audience is the person himself or herself. She needs to convince herself that she doesn't hate the overbearing and domineering father. He needs to convince himself that he is not attracted to men. She needs to convince herself that she doesn't hate her newborn baby because the newborn baby has taken her life away from her.

So to do all this, they behave in ways which signify and denote the exact opposite.

Reaction formation is counterintuitive in the sense that the behavior and the psychological reality don't match. It's a camouflage. It's a disguise, but it's not a lie in the sense that the person engaging in reaction formation is not actively gaslighting or actively lying.

The person who displays reaction formation in his behaviors, choices, speech acts, is not doing this because he wants to mislead other people. He's doing this because he wants to convince himself.

And so, solicitude may be a reaction formation against cruelty, cleanliness being obsessively, compulsively clean and neat against actually some attraction to dirt or to unclean sexual practices.

Pacifism can be a reaction formation against sadism and aggression.

As one of the texts say, high ideals of virtue and goodness may be reaction formations against primitive object cathixis, emotional investment in primitive objects.

This virtue, this goodness, these ideals are not realistic values that are capable of being lived up to.

Romantic notions of chastity and purity may mask crude sexual desires. Altruism may hide selfishness, piety may conceal sinfulness. A phobia is an example of a reaction formation.

The person wants that which he fears the most. He's not afraid of the object, he's afraid of the wish for the object. The reactive fear prevents the dreaded wish from being fulfilled.

It's a very interesting insight about phobia.

So, reaction formation is used by professional psychologists and professors of psychology to explain many responses to external threats but also to internal anxieties.

And reaction formation is a bridge.

Very often something outside that symbolizes your inner anxiety, something outside that reifies what you fear of most. You're afraid of something and then there's an object or a person or a place or an institution outside that reifies, symbolizes and bodies your greatest fear about yourself.

So, of course, this creates a lot of aggression. Stockholm Syndrome, for example, that's when the hostage, the kidnapping hostage, the victim falls in love with the kidnapper. Obviously, there's a lot of resentment and anger and rage and frustration and fury and hatred towards anyone who kidnaps you.

But it's very dangerous to show this to the kidnapper because he may shoot you in the head.

So, this creates a reaction formation.

Rather than show the kidnapper your true feelings about him, you show him that you're in love with him.

The kidnapper has complete power over you. It would be extremely unwise and irrational to express your true emotions. So, you repress them, you deny them, you delete them and instead you engage in behavior. This signals exactly the opposite. I don't hate you, Mr. kidnapper. I love you.

Powerless and vulnerable people.

For example, there have been studies of people inmates in Nazi concentration camps. How these people, the victims, the Holocaust victims bonded with guards. They were even collecting objects discarded by SS officers.

It's like if I collect objects by the person who can kill me, he will not kill me. It's very primitive. It's a form of magic.

Indeed, reaction formation involves magical thinking. If I behave externally in a certain way, it's going to affect my mind. It's going to delete what's bothering me. It's going to eliminate what I'm afraid of and it's going to obliterate any trace of that which I do not want to be.

So, it's a kind of reverse magical thinking.

In classic magical thinking, there is the mistaken belief that your mind can change the world. In reverse magical thinking, there's a mistaken belief that if you act in a certain way in the world, it will change your mind.

And so, the mechanism of reaction formation is very prevalent in obsessions.

What is an obsession?

Obsession is a behavior. Obsession compulsion. It's a behavior. It's a ritual. It's like if I engage in this ritual, nothing bad will happen to me. If I repeat this sequence of actions, my loved ones, my nearest and dearest, will not be harmed.

This is the essence of obsession.

And this is obsession. It's another form of reaction formation.

During the formation of the ego, and again, ego is a metaphor. No one captured an ego. No one spoke to an ego. And no one traveled with an ego on another plane.

Ego is a metaphor, but a useful metaphor. I find it to be a useful metaphor.

So, during the formation of the ego, in other words, during the formation of our interface with the world, when we begin as children, we begin to notice the world. We begin to venture out into the world. And we do this by developing a reality testing.

So, when the ego is formed, there's a lot of reaction formation.

As children engage in magic, taking on the world is a very grandiose act, saying goodbye to mommy is the most terrifying, traumatic thing. And we know that religions and magic are defenses against trauma, against fear, against catastrophe. All the primitive religions are forms of reaction formation.

Primitive religions and actually not so primitive religions, like monotheistic religions. What are we talking about? What is a religion? A religion is a set of behaviors.

And you're telling yourself, if I will behave in a certain way, nothing bad will happen to me. If I behave in a certain way, I will have reformed myself. I will have changed. If I behave in a certain way, I will change. I will be different.

So, religion and therapy for this matter, psychotherapy, these are all forms of, let's call them sublimated reaction formations, where action or a series of prescribed ritualistic actions are supposed to bring about internal transformation, which would render you happier, more egodystonic, or egodystonic, will remove the parts of you that you're not comfortable with.

And so, obsessive personality disorders very easily bleed into practices such as religion.

And we all know the obsessive religious person. We all met one, or we all have the misfortune of having one in the family.

Reaction formation may be more common among men than among women, but we do have studies among women as well.

Women, for example, who felt very guilty about their sexual behavior claimed to have lower sexual arousal when they were exposed to erotic stimuli. In other words, they felt bad about their sexual behavior, they felt guilty and ashamed.

And by the way, majority of women do. After casual sex, majority of women actually feel bad in one way or another.

And so, a possible reaction formation is to say, I actually don't like sex. I actually hate sex. I actually don't want sex. I'm in control of my sexuality. I can go abstinent or celibate for decades. I don't need sex. It's a reaction formation. It's behaving in a way which defines the truth. And the truth is, you're very sexual. You want to have sex, even with strangers. You're socially unrestricted. You're promiscuous. Denying promiscuity by becoming frigid, by becoming not interested in sex, or by extension, not interested in men.

We did conduct experiments among promiscuous women who vowed to never have sex again. And we discovered that their genitalia are reacting with a higher than average sexual response. Their genitalia were totally autonomous. Their genitalia, their body, wanted sex.

Similarly, when we tested white people, white people means Caucasians. White people who claim to be non-racist, egalitarian, pacifist, humanity-loving people, tree huggers, and I don't know why. Actually, these people scored higher for racist tendencies.

Recent studies by Gabbai, others in British Columbia, and so on, show that activists in social movements are actually very high on the narcissistic and psychopathic spectrum.

You read me well. I'm going to repeat this. Activists in victimhood movements, social activists, are actually high on narcissistic and psychopathic measures.

So social activism is a form of reaction formation.

I'm a psychopath, and maybe I don't feel good with it, or maybe I hit rock bottom, or maybe I don't want to be a psychopath anymore. It's not working for me. The way out is to be a social activist, to be the exact opposite of a psychopath, openly, publicly, overtly, ostentatiously, become a humanity lover, become the great equalizer of the racist, Black Lives Matter, me too.

But actually, when we test these people, they are much higher in terms of racist tendencies than the average population.

But we also found out that these very people who are at heart, deep inside, seriously racist, give more money to African American panhandlers and beggars than they do to white beggars and panhandlers. That's their way of reaction. That's their reaction formation.

You see, I'm giving money to African Americans in need, giving money to African American, homeless. So that proves that I'm not a racist. When actually, deep inside they are.

Anna Freud said that reaction formation is believing the opposite. It's a psychological defense mechanism. It goes beyond denial. It's not about denial, it's to behave in the opposite way, to what you really think and what you really feel, thereby suppressing it to the point that you no longer feel it and no longer think it because you convince yourself of the big lie.

These are conscious behaviors. Reaction formation is a set of conscious behaviors intended to overcompensate for an anxiety. The person feels anxiety regarding socially unacceptable, unconscious thoughts and emotions.

So reaction formation is exaggerated, is showy, is compulsive, and it keeps the person satisfied because it deceives the so-called ego. It falsifies the reality testing. The person says, "My true motivation is I'm not a racist. I'm not a homosexual. I'm not hateful. I'm not aggressive."

But that's, of course, deceitful. If a patient comes to you and he says, "I strongly believe in something," and he becomes very angry when you defy him or when you disagree with him, and he goes on and on and it's almost obsessive. He can't stop. That's the only thing he talks about all the time.

You can rest assured. That's exactly who he is.

If he goes on and on and on about promiscuity, he's promiscuous. If he goes on and on and on about how bad it is to be a racist, he's a racist.

And if he attacks LGBTQIA and all the other letters, he probably has latent homosexual tendencies. He's a latent gay, hidden, lurking, suppressed, but there.

Sometimes this occult, this submerged and subsumed urges and emotions come to the surface. Sometimes even reaction formation is not enough.

And these people want to do something. They want to say something. This is especially common under the influence, when alcohol is consumed or some other types of drugs.

And then these people do say something that is effectively the opposite of how they present themselves to the world.

So you could have a social activist or a politician, a politician who has dedicated his career to fighting racism and then on camera unbeknownst to him is going to crack a racist joke.

You can have a rabid womanizer who can never commit himself. And he goes from one woman to another to another to another. He gets drunk and he has sex with the men.

These are cracks in the reaction formation facade.

Reaction formation slips a bit like a musk. The musk sleeps. The reality appears. And this immediately provokes enormous anxiety. And the anxiety is composed of two parts.

Self rejection on the one hand. Oh my God, I slept with the men. Oh my God, I'm a racist. I mean, the realization of who you really are, that you've been lying to yourself all your life. It's harrowing, it's terrifying.

And the second element in the anxiety is the expectation of social punishment, social sanction, excommunication, mockery, criticism being canceled.

If you fear of being criticized for something, you will visibly act in a way that shows that you are a long way from this kind of behavior or speech. If you're afraid to be honest, because being honest and politically incorrect carries a social price tag, over the years you will convince yourself otherwise. Over the years, you will create a fake persona, fake musk, but it will adhere so closely to your face that it will become you. The reaction formation will become indistinguishable from true authentic genuine behaviors. It will become you.

Where the person uses excessive behavior, for example, exaggerated friendliness, is actually feeling unfriendly. Where you can judge the true core of a person by observing the exaggerated behaviors. Someone who is angry with a co-worker, ends up being particularly courteous and friendly towards this co-worker. Someone who is gay, has a number of conspicuous heterosexual affairs and openly criticizes gays.

A mother who has a child she doesn't want, becomes very protective of that child. An alcoholic extols the virtues of abstinence and is even convinced that he really believes it. It's a cover-up. It's a cover-up for something that is unacceptable in you by adopting the opposite stance or position. And it's distinct from projection, as I said.

And so Freud called it overboarding. The person is going overboard in one direction to distract himself and us and to cover up for something unwanted in the other direction.

So you're afraid of your own aggression. You become a pacifist.

And so these are extreme patterns. They appear in paranoia, in obsessive compulsive disorder.

And because they are seamlessly integrated with mental illness, or some forms of mental illness, we just mentioned paranoia and so on, people who engage in reaction formation to a very large degree begin to feel that something is wrong, begin to feel ego-distantly, begins to feel discomfort with themselves. They begin to actually doubt and question themselves.

So people who are engaged in reaction formation sometimes flip. They change on a dime overnight. They become the exact opposite where they had been preaching and hectoring over a lifetime.

The zealous homophobe will suddenly out become homosexual. The loving daughter will suddenly rebel and openly declare a hatred of her father and abandon him.

This flips, these massive changes in the totality of the personality, the whole repertory of behaviors, is a powerful indicator of the existence of reaction formation.

And so what to do with such people? How to cope, for example, with these white supremacists?

One way is to, it's like in judo, I think, or jiu-jitsu, I have to ask Richard Grannon, where you use the momentum of the opponent to win over.

So one way is to agree actually with the reaction formation, to exaggerate the exaggeration, to go with and to render it a caricature so that even the person who engages in the reaction formation will recoil because he will suddenly see the comic nature of his own defensive behaviors, positions and speech acts, exaggerate the exaggerated over the top reaction formation to render it utterly unacceptable.

And you know, the butt of mockery, this exposes the underlying tendencies.

So when you do this, you should at the same time legitimize, legitimize that which the reaction formation is intended to conceal.

So if there's a gay, a latent homosexual who is an overt heterosexual and an ardent homophobe, you go along with this and then you begin to broach the subject of, is it really reprehensible to be gay? Is there something wrong with it? Why do you think it's wrong?

I mean, you deconstruct, you deconstruct the narrative, legitimizing the hidden impulse, legitimizing the covert, suppressed, repressed, ignored part, denied part.

The reaction formation is in many ways a cry for help, actually. It's like saying, I can't be myself, I have to be someone else.

So you have to show that person that some of his behavior, some of the reaction formation is actually socially unacceptable.

And if he were to adopt his true, his authentic self, he would be much more acceptable socially than what he's doing now.

For example, if you are a member of militia and you kill, kill transgender people because you're terrified of maybe you are, maybe you have transgender tendencies in yourself and you can't stand this, so you become a rabid, morbid, hater of transgender people.

You kill a trans or two.

Now that's reaction formation. It's easy to demonstrate that this is much less socially acceptable than actually admitting your transgender tendencies.

So when in communication with these people, you need to show them that reaction formation is non-sustainable because how long can you carry out this act and how long can you deceive yourself and still trust it?

And you have to show them that reaction formation is almost always less acceptable in society than the alternative of admitting who you truly are and how you truly feel.

Then you need to legitimize it.

You need to give them space. You need to listen to their ideas. You need to validate their identity. You need to embrace and accept. You need to react against the undesirable pattern of reaction formation but help them to create their own way and show them that if they were true to themselves, this would actually be far less undesirable than the reaction formation.

These contrarian reactions, these contrarian reactions, again, they are an appeal, they're a cry for help. You need to provide a supportive environment. You need them to feel safe, to admit and to accept what is happening to them.

And so defense mechanisms are symptoms of a problem with reality. It could be external reality, it could be internal reality.

But there's a problem with coping with reality. You need to allow them to evolve in a safe containing environment, the capacity to cope with reality. Never confront someone with reaction formation head on. It will only entrench him in his position. He will feel a lot more threatened and you will have lost him.

That's why I never argue with a conspiracy theorist with reason or try to dismantle or deconstruct his nonsense. It's a wrong way to go about it.

People become conspiracy theorists and they have reacted formation because they are in distress and they don't need you to add to their distress. And they don't need you to put them down. That's not what it's all about.

Show them that their position is socially unacceptable, more socially unacceptable than who they really are and how they truly feel and show them that their real feelings are legitimate and accepted.

I want to refer you to two articles. They're pretty foundational articles published decades ago.

Juney in 9th Juney J-U-N-I in 1981 Theoretical Foundations of Reaction Formation is a defense mechanism. It was published in Genetic Psychology Monographs, volume 104.

The abstract says among the defense mechanisms reaction formation is considered by the author to be the most stable pervading the entire personality structure.

The source of the defensive energy is explored within the context of drive theory, paralleling super-ego development and the processes of functional autonomy of other drive derivatives.

The dynamics of balancing affect against behavior are analyzed with reference to the adaptive function of compulsion.

Reaction formation is shown to relate closely to repression in its capacity for comprehensive impulse negation.

The centrality of reaction formation within the constellation of characterology is underlined.

It's an interesting article. Although it's a bit too Freudian for me, there are too many references to the anal phase and all kinds of psychosexual phases of development, but still I think the author got many, many things right.

Actually he got it right first and we still teach and propagate many of the insights in this article.

The second article was published in Journal of Personality in January 2002. It was written authored by Roy Baumeister, who is a major figure in psychology, Karen Dale and Christen Sommer. It's titled Freudian Defense Mechanisms and Empirical Findings in Modern Social Psychology.

Reaction formation, projection, displacement, undoing, isolation, sublimation and denial.

And again I'll read to you the abstract.

Recent studies in social psychology are reviewed for evidence relevant to seven Freudian defense mechanisms.

This work emphasizes normal populations, moderate rather than extreme forms of defense and protection of self-esteem against threat.

Reaction formation, isolation and denial have been aptly shown in studies and they do seem to serve defensive functions.

Undoing in the sense of counterfactual thinking is also well documented but does not serve to defend against the threat.

Projection is evident but the projection itself may be a byproduct of defense rather than part of the defensive response itself.

Displacement is not well supported in any meaningful sense although emotions and physical arousal states do carry over from one situation to the next.

No evidence of sublimation was found.

Reaction formation tends to increase dramatically in polarized societies. Societies or conflict is the organizing principle.

For example, American society, society in the United States today is an anomic polarized society and reaction formation is bound to explode as a preferred defense mechanism.

We are already seeing this. Everything from mass shootings to white supremacy, militancy is a form. These are forms of reaction formation.

Psychologists, politicians, decision makers and policy makers, educators would do well to pay very close attention to this much neglected defense mechanism because ladies and gentlemen it is upon us.

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