Sorry, it is too tempting to resist! A little bit of Freud for you. The man has been out of fashion of late, rarely taught on Psychology courses and even the phrase ‘Freudian slip’ isn’t heard much anymore. Whilst most of his theories have been discounted, some of it is coming back into style – as is the cyclical nature of trends.

This isn’t a post on Psychodynamics for business productivity, rather a few thoughts to help in understanding ourselves and others. Internal conflict, so Freud says, is the cause of angst. We relieve it, or rather defend ourselves from it, through nine mechanisms:

  1. Repression, putting things out of the concious mind. Of course, they resurface – and this is the area Freud is most popularly known for.
  2. Displacement, redirecting the motivation towards something that is more acceptable.
  3. Sublimation redirecting libido towards a higher, altruistic social goal. That’s sublime.
  4. Projection is placing ones feelings onto another person, identifying them as there.
  5. Reaction Formation defends against a repressed tendency by over compensating in the opposite direction.
  6. Denial of the situation, refusing to accept it as being.
  7. Rationalization involves giving a socially acceptable reason, different to the, less attractive, real motivation.
  8. Regression provides a defence by returning to childhood behaviours.
  9. Escape – pressing the eject button and getting out of the situation

It is amazing how many of these phrases have come into common use, although without their background and context. Whilst his theories weren’t perfect, they did come from a good deal of personal introspection, and provide a starter for ten!

Do you recognise any of those in your actions, or the actions of those around you? Being aware of why we, or others, do what we do is surprisingly fruitful.