Reaction training is a defense mechanism.It is triggered when someone feels an instinctive or, in any case, unconscious desire that he consciously rejects.This drives him to develop the drive contrary to the one he rejects.
An example can help us better understand this idea. Suppose a woman does not agree with her mother's way of being, who likes to control everything. This rejection pushes her to fuel hate for the way her mother tries to intervene and limit her life.However, for her, this hatred is also repulsive: in the end, she feels like a bad person because she feels hatred for her mother.She therefore develops a behavior of reaction formation: she struggles to take care of her mother and to make her happy.
"Reaction training is a complex defense mechanism through which unacceptable feelings and impulses are modified to become acceptable".
Of course, this mechanism of reaction formation is formed and unfolds in the unconscious. The person does not know that she has developed it.But as in our example, she feels a strong impulse to act in a certain way. In general, exaggerated manifestations betray this process.
Reaction training, overprotection and relaxation
One of the most typical cases of reaction formation is the opposite case to our first example.It occurs when a mother or father has resentment or feelings of rejection for their children.All social commandments tell them to love them unconditionally. Hostility towards children gives rise to unconscious feelings of guilt.
In these cases, reaction formation usually results in a very strong need to overprotect them.But what do they protect them as much? In reality, from their own feelings of hostility towards them. They are afraid that their rejection will hurt them. Overprotecting them is one way to avoid this harm. Or fix it. It is at this moment that mothers or fathers who control everything arise, thus reinforcing the dependence of their children.
The opposite can also happen.Unconscious feelings of guilt give rise to limitless laxity. To put it another way, parents let kids do whatever they want.They do not set limits for them to make up for the rejection they feel towards them. In the end, they only allow irresponsible attitudes and pernicious behavior. Children, once adults, will become dependent persons.
Other cases of reaction formation
Other very frequent cases of reaction training occur in men who are said to be "macho" or in women who bear the (ugly) name of "feminazies". Sometimes a man does not tolerate his own fragility because he has been taught that any demonstration of sensitivity or tenderness calls into question his masculinity.He is thus transformed into a person who is falsely hard and reckless, imposing unnecessary anxieties and challenges.The same thing happens with women who are hypersensitive to any manifestation of masculinity.
Some cases go even further. These are realities in which the defense mechanism is more intense and profound. This gives rise toextremely rigid behavior that become compulsive.
This is where "fanatics" appear.They feel strong sexual urges and decide to preach chastity. They even blame themselves for having made a "wet dream". We also find those who sacrifice themselves for others and come to extreme situations. These people are probably trying to free themselves from an unconscious sense of guilt.
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It is important to emphasize that people are not aware of this whole process.They do not recognize the feelings or desires they reject. They also do not realize that they develop impulses to hide them. There is a kind of self-deception and unclear behavior toward others. But this is not done deliberately.
Reaction training does not necessarily affect one person: it can affect a whole group. A family, an ideological group, a work team, etc.These environments sometimes fuel guilt over certain subjective realities. For example, people can idealize love and put it on the plane of perfection. They do not consider it in human terms, that is, imperfect. This promotes the formation of these defense mechanisms.
There are cases where reactionary training becomes an obstacle to moving forward.It is needed and has an impact on the whole life of a person. In these situations, she may assume a risk to physical and mental health. If this point is reached, the only reasonable solution is to follow a psychotherapy that facilitates the emergence and appropriation of unconscious contents.