Constructing a Personality

"I am just a bundle of reaction formation responses."

I don't know if I love my friends because they are my friends or if they are my friends because I love them. But I do know I love the wonderful things they say. So much laughter, learning and blog fodder.

Reaction formation refers to a coping mechanism (Freudian defense mechanism) by which we replace unacceptable or anxiety producing behaviors and emotions with their direct opposite. Or at least what is perceived to be the opposite. Different flip-sides for different folks as it were.

Of course, as with all psychological theory it all gets much more diffuse and complicated as applied to various personas and personalities. For instance, if you are reacting to a parent who is often angry then you might avoid anger yourself by overly compensating, being always agreeable, never oppositional. Perhaps trading one dysfunctional behavior for another. How then does someone express an emotion like anger when reacting to a pathological use of that same emotion in parents or peers?

Well fortunately we are not just a bundle of reaction formations. We really do have free will; we actually can break free of whatever traits our childhood imposed upon us. Our maturation allows us options other than reaction formation. Still buried down deep or not buried at all lurks the remanent of all we have been and might have been. All twisty and turny (psychological terms) yet changeable, malleable and unique.

All my friends are nearly normal and I love them for exactly those qualities.