Psychological Self-Help

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Another form of displacement is what Anna Freud described as
"turning-against-self." In the last example, instead of the hatred of
one's sister and mother being turned on women in general, it could be
turned against oneself. This is a commonly assumed dynamic in
depression and suicide. 
Reaction formation: a denial and reversal of our feelings. Love
turns into hate or hate into love. "Hell has no fury like a spurned
lover." Where there is intense friction between a child and a parent, it
can be converted into exaggerated shows of affection, sometimes
sickeningly sweet and overly polite. The feelings and actions resulting
from a reaction formation are often excessive, for instance the loud,
macho male may be concealing (from himself) sexual self-doubts or
homosexual urges. Or, the person who is unconsciously attracted to
the same sex may develop an intense hatred of gays. People, such as
TV preachers who become crusaders against "loose morals”, may be
struggling with their own sexual impulses. 
Identification: allying with someone else and becoming like them
in order to allay anxiety. Remember Freud's notion that the Oedipus
and Electra Complexes are resolved by identification with the same
sexed parent. Other examples: occasionally an oppressed person will
identify with the oppressor, some Jews helped Hitler, some women
want their husbands to be dominant and feel superior to them and
other women. In other cases, a person may associate with and
emulate an admired person or group to reduce anxiety. High school
cliques serve this purpose. A new college freshman may feel tense and
alone and out of place; she notices that most other students are "a
little dressed up," not sloppy shirt and jeans. Her roommates insist on
studying from 7:00 to 10:00 every night except Friday and Saturday;
they are more serious than her old friends and their conversations
reflect these differences. They commented about her "country" accent
and the fact that she didn't watch the news. She started dressing up
occasionally, watched the news, got more interested in politics, and
studied a lot more than ever before. When she went home at
Christmas, her friends told her she had changed and dad commented
that he was losing his little girl. She didn't know it but she had
identified with a new group and learned to feel more comfortable. 
Sublimation: transforming unacceptable needs into acceptable
ambitions and actions. One may convert a compelling interest in
getting a parent's attention into a drive to do well in school. Sexual
drives can be pored into sports. Anger and resentment of the
advantages of others can be funneled into an obsession to excel in a
lucrative career. 
Fantasy: daydreams and their substitutes--novels and TV Soaps--
are escapes, a way to avoid our real worries or boredom. We may
imagine being highly successful when we feel unsuccessful; at least we
feel better for the moment. Actually, we often benefit by rehearsing in
fantasy for future successes. At other times, fantasies may provide a
way to express feelings we need to get off our chest. Fantasy is only a
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