Freud claimed these ego defence mechanisms are formed as a supplementary mediator between the ‘id’ and the ‘superego’. These defence mechanisms are a collection of unconscious mental processes that enable the mind to reach compromise solutions to conflicts that the ego is unable to resolve. The compromise of the conflict between the impulsive ‘id’ and reality driven ‘super-ego’ involves concealing from oneself internal drives or destructive feelings that threaten to lower self-esteem and provoke anxiety. The episode that occurred in the class illustrates Person A’s method of displacement in order to eradicate past traumatic experiences. Displacement occurs when the ‘id’ is propelled to act on something the righteous ‘superego’ does not permit. The ego thus finds an alternate way of releasing the psychic energy of the ‘id’, transferring energy from a repressed object-cathexis to a more acceptable vessel.
In this case material I speak a lot of the transference from Person A to myself. However transference is a process as opposed to a static event; creating a continual redirection of emotion between both parties; whether it be mother and child, husband and wife or patient and psychoanalyst. For Freud what is transferred are feelings, usually about persons or situations long ago, which are left unresolved and not fully dealt with. Transference thus, becomes an important tool in trying to understand what the unconscious assumptions are of a person in their approach to important relationships. Freud (1912) was clear that the transference was not created by the therapeutic situation but it merely revealed it.
The analytic relationship becoming a framework within which the patient relives/reveals the original plot without knowing or realising. The transference and counter-transference between both parties are inter-subjective allowing both to feel and re-experience troubling patterns and attitudes from their personal histories. It is only through the reflective processes that we have learnt over this course, that I have been able to step back and reflect behaviours and processes both of myself and of others; re-evaluating the motivations behind certain actions.
Observing the dynamics between myself and Person B, triggered within Person A an anger perhaps related more with experiences she had faced outside the room than what she was actually observing within it. The outburst against me may have been an unconscious reaction and rejection of the intolerable feelings she has stored within herself against her boss. How I responded to these criticisms however is what surprised me the most. I was deeply shaken by the opinions Person A had formulated off me within the short group activity time period. I began to feel a revulsion towards myself for being a ‘brash’, ‘crude’, ‘overbearing’ class member who had dominated the rest of the team. On self reflection the two self descriptive terms that I saw within myself were ‘brash’ and mouthy’.
Two terms and ways of being I had a particularly hard time digesting and associating myself with. Person A had in fact not said those words but through her criticism those were terms I had extracted from her insinuations and formulated to describe myself. It had created an image of a women in my mind’s eye that I was so desperate not to be. Person A’s critique brought up a vulnerability and self doubt within me which I think has existed for sometime. The feeling of revulsion towards the ‘loudmouthed’ women Person A had made me feel like, is perhaps related to another one of Freud’s defense mechanisms ‘Introjection’. In this case being the introjected parent ego state (Erskine 2003) . Introjection is when we absorb the ideas, opinions and expectations of significant others, particularly during our early most malleable stages of life.
These introjections can be communicated to us both verbally and nonverbally often occurring with minimal conscious thought. The continual interaction between child and parent from birth means the child inadvertently adopts personality traits and beliefs; such as the adults religious ideology, the concept of right and wrong, and ideas about gender and sex.Person A’s observation automated a response of distaste and disdain towards my own behaviour and a saddened curiosity of whether that was how people truly viewed me.
I think the embarrassment of being associated with those adjectives stemmed from my introjection of my parental figures opinion on how women should be and behave. This applies also in a cultural context; where I have internalised the views of my family of origin, being that loud, obnoxious women are looked down upon. Due to the internalisation of these associations, when Person A gave her opinions I became tearful as a sense of my core self was shaken.
Adopting the beliefs of the critical parent figure has meant that I have formed a deep rooted internal critic shaping my view of the world and also how I see myself. Eric Berne described the Parent ego state as a “reproduction of feelings, attitudes and behaviour of the introjected parent or other significant persons in actual transactions with people” (Erskine 2003)Freud stated that patients behaviours are often vehicles for their inner conflicts which would otherwise be to painful to face; often consciously remembering nothing of them but expressing them through action. Whether is be as a stimulation, excitement, an escape or revenge; the action through which this inner conflict is released often for them feels like a safer or at least a temporarily relieving alternative. The other members of the group who had observed the unravelling of this interaction I felt worked as both containers and soothers. Their sympathy and validation had confirmed to me that perhaps it wasn’t just my behaviour alone but something else that was operating for Person A during the occurrence.
The groups conversation after the incident opened up further challenges to my thinking. I felt I was soon allocated the victim position and as certain individuals spoke out on my behalf a triangle of the victim, rescuer and persecutor had formed. I had been transformed from the ‘loud-mouthed’ domineering oppressor to the helpless, oppressed very quickly.
As a few members of the group spoke on my and began to challenge Person A’s opinion there once again was a shift in roles. This need for the group to contain and repair the situation ended in the unintentional scapegoating of Person A who appeared to become deflated and downtrodden. Through watching Person A’s behaviour change quite significantly as the experiential session progressed, my position within myself shifted from feeling relieved of people’s aid to guilt.
What was once a feeling of defeat and sadness for myself had then transferred to feelings of guilt for Person A. Through this essay I feel I have been able to observe my own internal workings and self- reflective processes in more depth. This case material in particular illustrated how emotions and affects are fluid and constantly shifting. Our roles within our interactions are never static and the transference and counter-transference processes between individuals are intertwined with our past histories and experiences.