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Thread: Emotional Repression

  1. #71
    Ƙιηg σf Lσνє Lινє Array Yamato Nadeshiko's Avatar
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    Dec 2014


    I am not emotionally expressive unless I'm with close friends. To strangers I just look pissed off all the time, and will only express positive emotions around them if any at all. If someone I don't know well and don't care about does something to upset me there's no point in telling them because I'm just going to avoid them regardless and would rather avoid a confrontation so what's the point? I'll just hold it back until I can vent to a friend over facebook later or something.
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  2. #72
    Senior Member Array Rambling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nixie View Post
    I really, really thought I didn't do this/wasn't capable of it. The exaggerated disgust I felt toward people who I felt were repressing should have been a clue.

    Repression isn't always cool, polite and contained, as I mistakenly assumed. It can actually be quite expressive and stormy. We can escape from emotions to secondary emotions, or express them in a misguided way that is really about discharging them or fogging them up with in-the-moment adrenaline so they don't have to be deeply felt.

    I took a bunch of notes on this recently when I read a book, so here are some examples from them of not so quiet repression:

    Rage - flight from more vulnerable emotions into a highly stimulating one. Most sources I've read about anger have said it's almost always secondary. This was a highly embarrassing one to learn about. Many times, I've felt I was being the only honest person in the room by expressing my anger. But when I read about its relationship with fear and sadness, I knew. Who wants to own up to running away from something at the expense of others? I have a bad McFly complex about cowardice (nobody calls me chicken!), so of course my unconscious is going to do circus acrobatics to hide any personal patterns of it of it from my awareness.

    Displacement - redirection of emotions toward something other than what really triggered them. It could be positive emotions, like doting on pets because one is afraid of humans rejecting them if they show affection. It could be negative emotions, like discharging grievances on people who are less likely to strike back than the real source of the stress. Emotion can be displaced onto the self, like blaming oneself for a problem to avoid standing up to someone else. Another humiliating highlight for me, having done literally all of these examples. Again, I didn't realize the dishonesty of it because I wasn't holding it in - but hiding can be about "where" as much as about "if".

    Exaggeration of an emotion is just the opposite of minimizing it - each escapes the true significance of it and the challenge of its complexity by running to one pole or another.

    Splitting - between good and bad. Either something is all one, or all the other. Idealizing or demonizing to avoid the feelings of uncertainty that come with accepting complexity and ambiguity in people or situations.

    Regression - escape to an easier stage of life. Not acting one's age.

    Drama can preempt a feared confrontation that was not necessarily inevitable - when it serves this purpose, it's the cognitive distortion of fortune telling coming to a head. Being convinced that a bad thing is coming, the anticipation is too much to bear. It can also be a way of extracting validation from others now, instant gratification. Difficulty sitting with the need for love. Being afraid to ask for company when lonely, so attracting others' attention with pyrotechnics instead - ironic how being ashamed of one's need for attention can precipitate way more extreme attention seeking behaviors than just unashamedly admitting the need.

    Humor can remove the sting from a hard truth. It can be a useful way of introducing truth to the reluctant as long as it leads into dealing with the real emotional gravity rather than numbing it indefinitely.

    Projection - as in the top of this post. Judging others with a special hatred that comes from knowing the fault intimately within oneself, whether one is aware of it or not.
    Great post. What was the book called?

    Edit: just realised you already said this later on. Sorry.

    A different good book is Opening up, by Pennebaker. He explains how to process emotions and make sense of them in a way which moves things forwards.
    Last edited by Rambling; 12-01-2015 at 03:02 PM. Reason: Have now found the answer to the question I asked...
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  3. #73
    Senior Member Array Dyslexxie's Avatar
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    Sep 2015
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    I found this interesting post discussing repression versus projection:
    Repression is a defense mechanism first described by Sigmund Freud, as a way that people keep unpleasant memories out of their conscious mind. Repression is a compensatory style that deals with threat and stress by blocking unpleasant emotional experiences that might bring up anxiety, distress and vulnerability. Being split off from feelings is called alexithymia. Repressors have a chronic inaccessible filter that keeps them from experiencing the world through their emotions. They feel attacked and then distance and isolate from others when they are stressed. They avoid talking about and rehashing unpleasant experiences as this adds to their stress. They become emotionally inaccessible to others when they feel the problem has been solved by their solution of dismissing it. They are conflict avoidant and cannot tolerate working things out to the satisfaction of their partner. They often deny that there is a problem and have a lack of insight about how their distancing bothers others.

    Repressors have one emotion--from A to A. They can feel and express anger. Anger is a substitute emotion for the hurt and disappointment they might feel. Anger takes them out of the emotional flat line and becomes their dominant emotion. They are stressed by having to deal with others on an emotional level and change the subject or evade the issue to keep people who are upset from bothering them. They tend to be more aggressive and have a higher belief in themselves than most people. On the positive side, Repressors are often less neurotic than those who express their feelings easier. As they value the intellect, they can see events objectively without pesky emotions clouding up the issue.

    Research show that repressors remember fewer negative experiences from childhood. By minimizing the unhappy events, they distort reality and can even believe they had a happy childhood when they did not. The research literature suggests that they protect themselves from discomfort by superficially taking in negative events. They spend less time processing unpleasant new events and have the ability to dismiss them. This defense allows them to experience unpleasant emotions less frequently than emotionally intense people. The research says that people who cannot feel the more vulnerable emotions do not form associations between negative experiences and internal arousal such as anxiety. They need repeated trials to link a negative experience with negative emotions. The research literature suggests that repressors have a lack of emotional links in the brain that tie negative emotions to experiences.

    People who repress their feelings view themselves as "thinkers" and proudly use their intellect to process information. Talking and problem solving take preference over feelings. They can be highly analytical like Mr. Spock of the Starship Enterprise. They often intellectualize which is trying to explain emotionally painful feelings through thought. Sometimes they feel superior over people who are more emotional and dismiss this style of dealing with stress. Often they put people down who are emotional. They just don't "get" feelings and talking things out!

    Since they do not process their own emotions, they don't have a clue when it comes to understanding emotions in others. They are lacking in empathy and cannot put themselves is others' emotional shoes.

    They do the worst with partners who are highly emotional and insist on sharing feelings and who try to make the Repressor responsible for their anxiety that remains when there is no clear-cut solution to the problem. They do best in relationships with a partner who leaves them alone and who does not insist on their engaging in continual emotional discussion. They do best of all with a partner who does not need immediate closure on problems and has the ability to sweep conflict under the rug, however that rarely happens as they more likely to choose partners who are in touch with their feelings.

    Opposites do attract! Remember each style is just a defense mechanism to deal with stress. Emotional pursuers and emotional distancers are drawn to each other and thus the great comedy and drama of life begins! Some people who repress their emotions do learn across a lifetime and start to "wake up" to feelings as they grow older.

    Projection is another defense mechanism described by Freud. Defense mechanisms are always unconscious and people are unaware that they have them. People often see their own attitudes and behavior as "normal" and overestimate the worst in others. People who project see others as bad while excusing the same traits in themselves. They often assume a "False Consensus Effect" which is believing that others perceive things the way they do. We all have a bit of projection in us, but some people have the need to blame others big time, thus obstructing their own growth and learning.

    Projection is a common coping pattern where a person gets upset with a trait in someone else that he also has but cannot own. People who project their anger on another person suppress the knowledge that they have the same trait. They are highly sensitized to the unwanted behaviors in others and transfer their horror and anger at their own unwanted inner trait to an outside person. Much of their internal thought or words during an argument is focused on blaming the other person.

    People who project blame often feel a hidden stigma and shame at possessing a disgraceful personality trait so they "project" or transfer anger on others to distract themselves from knowing the truth about their own self. They become so highly sensitized to the presence of their unwanted traits that it interferes with their social informational processing. So they don't see reality as it is and then operate out of their misperceptions. How do you know if you are projecting your anger on others? Being preoccupied and judgmental about others' behavior is projection. If you spot it, you got it!

    Another form of projection is to transfer the arrows and slings of life onto "bad luck" or "fate." People who project often have other defenses such as Over-generalized Thinking, which is the habit of making statements that emphasize that things are always that way. Examples of this type of thinking are: "He never considers my opinion. You always put me down. She always tells me what to do. I have to do all the work. I never get a break. Why can't you ever get it right? and, "I can't stand it. I can't take anymore." Overgeneralization language uses words like "never, always, should and everybody or nobody."

    People who blame others frequently have a habit of focusing on right and wrong. They dwell on perceived injustices. They often say, "It's not fair!" and dwell on the negative keeping themselves in misery as they hold grudges. Keeping score of slights from others and dwelling on them creates a climate of hurt and suspicion. Focusing on unfairness keeps you caught in anger, resentment and grudges. (Hey, life frequently is unfair, but focusing on it only makes you more miserable!)

    People who blame others or situations without taking responsibility for their contribution to the problem never get the sense of satisfaction of growth. By refusing to see their own errors, they lose the opportunity to change the very aspects of themselves that keep them stuck. Studying personality dynamics is one way of bringing these unconscious defense mechanisms into the conscious mind. Becoming more aware of yourself and learning about how you affect others is part of the task of being a mature individual.
    I've been told that I'm somewhat of an open book because I'm quite expressive in my reactions but I think that's an entirely behavioral trait for me. While I express simple emotions, most are just short, momentary reactions to my environment, emotions that will often dissipate as quickly as they came up. 9 times out of 10 I may appear to feel and respond a certain way, and I may seem very passionate about what's occurring, but I internally I have almost no real emotional reaction and am just going through the motions. I've been reading a lot of about the theory of false consensus effect and I think some of us more expressive types are quite prone to it, allowing it to influence our behavior significantly.
    "Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen."

  4. #74
    failure to thrive Array AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
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    I never thought of myself as a repressor at all.

    But i relate a lot to that description.

    Isn't that pretty normal and healthy though? Minimize the setbacks and focus on the present/future?
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  5. #75
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    A sad fact that has been borne in upon me is that the repressed are repressive.

    Foolishly and mistakenly I have tried to help a repressed person but only to have them turn the apparatus on repression onto me.

    This is natural, for the repressed don't know they are repressed, and indeed believe that they are normal, natural and good, and so quite naturally try to make you normal, natural and good, according to their lights.

    So I now try to avoid the repressed, and leave them to a professional psychotherapist.
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  6. #76
    Senior Member Array GIjade's Avatar
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    I know a women who is a psychic. She "knows" things about other people and is really quite accurate about that knowledge. However, because she can't "prove" how she knows what she knows, she can't talk to anyone about what she feels. And she often has some very difficult emotions because of the things she knows, and really needs to be able to speak with someone about these things. But other people always seem to need proof or they won't believe her. She definitely can't speak with a psychologist about it, because as we all know, labels are the all important mechanisms which psychologists and psychiatrists use to categorize people. And sometimes put them away. This has lead to repressed emotions, and a lot of anger in her life. It must be very difficult to be psychic.
    “Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.”
    ― Walter Scott, Marmion

  7. #77
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Array Mole's Avatar
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    Default Emotional Repression and Ressentiment

    Emotional repression is unconscious but permeates our entire life, without our knowing.

    And emotional repression leads to ressentiment.

    To start to understand how ressentiment colours our entire life without our knowing, a good place to start is Max Scheler's book called, Ressentiment.

    To read Ressentiment click on!/download/...wuCK6BNfQjYhYP
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