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Avoidance

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Avoidance

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

Description

In avoidance, we simply find ways of avoiding having to face uncomfortable situations, things or activities. The discomfort, for example, may come from unconscious sexual or aggressive impulses.

Avoidance may include removing oneself physically from a situation. It may also involve finding ways not to discuss or even think about the topic in question.

Example

I dislike another person at work. I avoid walking past their desk. When people talk about them, I say nothing.

My son does not like doing homework. Whenever the subject of school comes up, he changes the topic. He also avoids looking directly at me.

Discussion

Avoidance is a simple way of coping by not having to cope. When feelings of discomfort appear, we find ways of not experiencing them.

According to the dynamic theory, avoidance is a major defense mechanism in phobias.

Procrastination is another form of avoidance where we put off to tomorrow those things that we can avoid today.

So what?

To get someone to face what they are avoiding, you may have to corner them or otherwise present them with a situation where they are unable to avoid the situation. If the discomfort is very strong, they may fight back hard, so be careful.

You can also use avoidance to persuade a person to do something. Give them a choice of two actions, one of which is something you know that they tend to avoid or which is likely to be less desirable. They will pick the path you want in order to avoid the less desirable way.

See also

Denial, Displacement, Intellectualization, Push principle

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