“Displacing Anger”- 14 May 2017.

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Written by Rita Aggarwal
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 21:48

The atmosphere was all charged up. Allegations and counter allegations were being fired at each other. The group divided into itself into three apparent alliances where emotions ruled supreme rather than reason and objectivity. Arguments were like ‘sloganeering’ and owing allegiance to the group rather than discussing the point in question. Nobody was in a mood to relent and admit one’s mistake. One member of the group was in dock due to serious problems arising out of negligence and administrative lapses. The member concerned too seemed unapologetic and unrelenting. Even if he did not want to admit his negligence, he could have apologised to the company and its members for creating the mess they all were in. But ‘NO’, he kept defending himself with all to see through the flawed arguments. He kept defending himself with the lame ‘conspiracy theory’, that hidden elements were out to malign him for no fault of his. All he had to do was to say ‘sorry’ at one level to all members for the mess and then plead not guilty. Instead he went tangent and ‘displaced’ all his frustrations, anger and guilt on the ‘so-called unknown elements’.

The General Manager of the department of Business development drafted and framed the new project proposal to be sent to another company of repute. He did it all by himself for it was an important one for their organisation. He did not allocate it to his team and his juniors but worked on it himself alone. After completing the proposal he packed it and asked his Senior Manager to deliver it soon. The reality was that there was a significant error in the proposal which went unnoticed by the GM. When the negative response of rejection came from the other company the GM lost his cool and fired his staff specially the Senior Manager. He blamed him for negligence and asked him why he did not look into the proposal carefully before he sent it. The SM was aghast and dumbfounded. He tried defending himself but could not in front of the rage of the GM who refused to see reason. The mistake was clearly done by the GM but he was only ‘displacing his anger’ onto the SM and making a scapegoat out of him.

A lady M was doing well on her job. She was being praised by her seniors and recommended for raise in salary and promotion too. In the last few years she had jumped two positions much to the anger of her colleagues. They were feeling frustrated, angry and jealous of her promotions. The responses a few of them gave her reeked of negativity. They alleged that ‘she was close to the boss’ who favoured her. They assassinated her character and her morals by making snide remarks behind her. Besides these ‘loose and baseless comments’, she was watched closely by jealous eyes for mistakes and errors made by her. The moment she made one, the mistake was highlighted and touted as a grave one. They enjoyed the feeling that she was not infallible! Her pride in herself was a source of distress to the ‘green horns’ as they delighted in making her embarrassed. Humiliating her was a game they played for self satisfaction as they regularly ‘displaced their anger and frustration’ at her.

‘Displacement’ is a defence mechanism mentioned by Sigmund Freud as a protective strategy used by the ego/self. When the self feels threatened by an object or a situation or a person, it gets into a protective mode of ‘pushing the blame on the other’. Doing this the self/ego absolves itself of the burden of negative emotions generated within the psyche for its own inherent weaknesses. Blaming it on the other seems the simplest solution to the problem without realising the truth which hurts badly the self image and self esteem of the person.

Politicians and lawyers use this strategy extensively to argue their point and plead not guilty which is a conscious process done thoughtfully. Politics is not about truth but creating a truth/reality for all to agree upon. We are all familiar with such political and legal games played by such people for meeting their own ends. That is not our subject matter however.

We are not talking about this conscious strategy but are mentioning an unconscious mechanism of self denial of the truth. Seeking the truth is a process of knowing about oneself. It’s a difficult process for it entails accepting one’s weaknesses, faults and bad deeds. It’s involves an awareness of one’s strengths and failings and a sincere acceptance of what is. The awareness becomes meaningful only when there is a desire for change for the better. Therefore, to evolve as a good and morally upright human being has to be a spiritual goal of moral uplift which has to be pursued throughout one’s life.

 

If a person says ‘I am like this and I will always be like this’, ‘I will not change, accept me or reject me’ speaks of an attitude of ‘stubbornness arising out of arrogance of the self’. Unjustified aggressive behaviour displaced on another is rampant in society more so in males. Such people are a nuisance to society, a burden, who spread disharmony and unrest. They are instrumental in creating stress and mental health problems in their personal homes, relations and in society by hurting others and setting bad examples of bad behaviour.