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Suppression

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping mechanisms > Suppression

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

Description

This is where the person consciously and deliberately pushes down any thoughts that leads to feelings of anxiety. Actions that take the person into anxiety-creating situations may also be avoided.

This approach is also used to suppress desires and urges that the person considers to be unworthy of them. This may range from sexual desires to feelings of anger towards other people for whatever reason.

Example

An older man has sexual feelings towards a teenager and quickly suppresses the thought.

I want to kick the living **** out of an idiot at the office. Instead, I smile at them and try to feel sorry for their Freudian plight.

I am about to take a short-cut down an alleyway. There are some people down there. I decide to take the longer, but more 'interesting' route.

Discussion

By avoiding situations or thoughts that lead to anxiety, the person minimizes their discomfort. However, as the feelings are still held in the subconscious, they continue to gnaw and create a sense of underlying and wearying low-level discomfort.

For example, a person has been unkind to another and then avoids thinking about it, as this would lead to uncomfortable feelings of shame and the dissonance of knowing they had acted outside of common human values. Suppression is conscious. Repression is subconscious.

So what?

To help a person deal with suppressed feelings, first create an open and accepting environment where there is no external reasons to remain suppressed. Then seek to trigger their release - which can be in a huge torrent, for example of anger and crying (although more gentle release may also occur).

One way of doing this is to regress them to incidents where the feelings were originally suppressed and then use therapeutic methods to enable them to re-experience the situation more appropriately.

See also

Repression, Denial, Intellectualization

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