Talk:Reaction formation

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BAW (talk) 14:10, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

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One question.Is revulsion at acts of cruelty a reaction formation against one's desire to be cruel? O can the theory be saved by proposing that the revulsion is a reaction formation only if it is excessive?

There are several other reasons why someone could be revolted by cruelty (or whatever the case may be). Believing that theft is wrong doesn't necessarily mean one secretly desires to be a thief. If someone appears to be overdoing a particular attitude, it might be reaction formation, but it could also be any number of other things. Afalbrig 06:20, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


While the examples themselves appear to be acceptable, they're not as strongly written as they could be (i.e. saying that one example is speculated, and the other "might be", etc.) --Sigma 7 06:09, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

I think some comlementary non-sexual examples are needed to flesh out understanding of the topic. Or is this simply because I'm oversexed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
I hope the Native American narrative that I have added helps balancing the sexual focus. __meco 20:33, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

American Dad?Edit

Does the example of the American Dad episode seem innacurate and unneccessary to anyone else? This doesn't really seem to be an example of the defense mechanism in question. Arguably, it might be denial, though it really seems to be mere hypocrisy, and not a defense mechanism at all. Deletion? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tutsuro (talkcontribs) 04:25, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Also the Muskogee bit is corny and not reaaly on tpoic. Couldn't we have some quotes from Freud and more psychoanalytic theory here? A bit more scholarly? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:17, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
To me it appears that neither of the two of you have grasped the concept on the reaction formation. It is a difficult concept to grasp for many, and examples both by allegory as the Muskogee section and mentions in popular media should serve well as much needed teaching tools. I added the Muskogee part because when I first read it, I immediately found it to be a wonderfully lucid story in this respect. Why do you insist on "learned"? Isn't the main point here to convey knowledge, even abstruse learning? Sure we can have learned, but that doesn't mean we have to throw out the rest if it's good. __meco (talk) 18:59, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree, it is a little bit of a non sequitur. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:06, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

The Muskogee lessonEdit

Since this was taken out of the article against my will, I shall post it here. I hope that more people than I find this to be highly educational in getting to the etiology of this mechanism in a way anybody can comprehend. And this is not about projection as someone on this page asserted, although the two are clearly similar.

In his autobiography The Wind Is My Mother,<ref>{{cite book |last=Heart |first=Bear |authorlink= |coauthors=Larkin, Molly |title= The Wind Is My Mother |year= 1996 |publisher= Berkley Books |location= New York |isbn= 0-425-16160-9 |pages= pp. 24-25 |chapter= A Well-Rounded Education }}</ref> Muskogee shaman Bear Heart relays a lesson he as a child was presented by his uncle, Jonas Bear:

Jonas Bear once took me down to a pond and told me to look into it, asking, "What do you see?"

"I see my reflection."
"Put this stick in the water and stir up your reflection."
After I stirred it up, he asked, " Now what do you see?"
"My face is all distorted."
"Do you like what you see?"
"I know that it's not supposed to look that way."
"When you meet someone and you immediately dislike them, always remember you are seeing a reflection of yourself—there is something you don't like about yourself that you're not owning up to. When you see it in someone else, then you don't like that person, but in reality you are being displeased with yourself. Always remember that."

__meco (talk) 18:31, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

This piece of verbal garbage has absolutely nothing to do with the concept of 'reaction formation'. It has no business being on the 'talk' page, let alone in the article. Pfistermeister (talk) 10:00, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
I won't argue for or against the "Jonas Bear" paragraph above, but I think it could be discussed with more civility than to call it "verbal garbage." It would be helpful if a qualified psychologist could write a paragraph or two putting the concept of reaction formation into some clear examples. The most obvious to me are the repeated cases of people crusading against homosexuality who almost invariably turn out to be closet cases themselves. However, I am not a psychologist and any contribution I'd have along these lines would be something akin to original research. BAW (talk) 14:10, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
Having thus far found no reason to comment on Pfistermeister's denunciation, it just came to me that their emotional reaction is probably itself powered by this phenomenon. That would be both curious and poetic. __meco (talk) 11:33, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with BAW there is no justification for using terms like "verbal garbage" and the talk page is actually supposed to be for people to put things that they think are relevant to the article, even if other editors disagree, so I'm find with having it here. Although I do also agree it is not relevant to reaction formation, or at least not relevant enough to merit inclusion in the article. What I'm surprised at and may take a shot at later is that there is nothing in this article about the criticism of reaction formation from people like Popper, Kuhn, and Skinner. Essentially that reaction formation is an example of how Freudian theory is pseudoscience, it is so flexible it can accomodate any expected result and hence has no actual predictive value. If you think the patient has a phobia of water and the patient stays away from water that confirms your prediction. But if the patient seeks out water that is reaction formation and it still confirms your diagnosis. --MadScientistX11 (talk) 15:57, 1 January 2015 (UTC)

Reaction formation is not always unconsciousEdit

The article says: "Where reaction-formation takes place, it is usually assumed that the original, rejected impulse does not vanish, but persists, unconscious, in its original infantile form" (emphasis added).
This is countered by examples of people who are quite aware that they, for example, loath or resent another (with or without the complication of feelings of love, care and concern) and overtly, and in varying degrees of exaggeration, demonstrate the opposite. An example that may be familiar is that of someone forced or otherwise obliged to "waste their life" caring for another in an exemplary fashion.
Some people would not be averse to their resentment showing in their treatment of the person that they are looking after. Others might feel a level of guilt about the negative feelings that they put an utmost effort into "proving" the opposite. The reaction formation. (Yet others would have their own pattern, of course, and some, showing the same quality of care as those with hidden resentment, would be doing it from a more positive basis than as a reaction to guilt). While the covering up may become habitual and the resentment become forgotten, it needn't be that the negative thoughts and emotions becomes unconscious in the inaccessible sense. It's more likely that they surface from time to time, especially in periods of heightened stress. (talk) 10:11, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
It’s been a very long time since I read Freud but from what I recall the way it’s described in the article is correct. But I could easily be wrong. However, if you want a change in the article you need to provide a good reference that supports your position, not just an argument. --MadScientistX11 (talk) 05:17, 30 August 2018 (UTC)

Relevance and empirical statusEdit

This article, while describing the original theory comprehensively, fails to provide information about how relevant the concept is nowadays and how it is consistent with contemporary empirical research. Is it a historical concept that is primarily relevant because it used to be an important part of Freud's theoretical work? Is it something that is used in psychology all the time? Is it something that is contested, i. e. psychoanalysts still use it but experimental psychologists deny its relevance? --Jazzman (talk) 20:06, 7 November 2021 (UTC)