Sigmund Freud is perhaps one of the greatest minds of the 1800’s regardless of the belief that many of his theories were wrong. His theories have stood the test of time and in modern time continue to govern many of the core beliefs of the field of psychology. A particular area and perhaps the most critical to understanding the human mind and psyche is defense mechanism stemming from the popular structure of personality composed of the id, ego and superego theories.
Defense mechanism are methods used by the ego to prevent unconscious anxiety or threatening thoughts from entering consciousness (Wade, C., Travis, C., 2012, p. 41). In other words it is a method of not allowing bad memories to be recalled, understood and faced. This is a common practice for many who have suffered bad childhood, sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence and other trauma’s in their life. Defense mechanism is comprised of five primary methods, as identified by Freud’s daughter: repression, projection, displacement, regression and denial (A. Freud, 1967; Valiant 1992). The theory of displacement plays a particular interest in understanding my situation, what I survived and trying to find an answer that my aggressor will never provide. Displacement occurs when people direct their emotions (especially anger) towards things, animals and other people that are not the real object of their feelings. (Wade, C., et al, 2012, p.41). In my situation I was the target of aggression, hate, anger and resentment for something that to this day I do not understand.
When it comes to domestic violence three of the five defense mechanisms are prominent in understanding, counseling and identifying domestic violence and abuse. My ex-husband physically assaulted me numerous times and verbally abused me throughout the relationship, his anger was triggered by insignificant things that never seemed to have anything to do with why he was so angry. Of course, by no means is this an excuse for his behavior but it helps to understand that I did nothing to warrant such behavior and I am providing myself with the ever haunting question, Why?
Displacement theory strikes a sour tune in my mind, could this have been what he was doing, projecting and acting on anger that really had nothing to do with me? The answer is absolutely most abusers act because they have deep psychological problems that have been brewing long before the victim came into the picture, and when the time is right it boils over into the closest person to them, usually a spouse. Denial, is the number one reason why domestic violence is a vicious cycle, the victim refuses to admit that they are in a violent relationship and even conjure excuses to justify the abuse. The abuse also play a role in denial, they lack the conviction or even basic feeling to admit that they have a problem and need to seek help, that they alone are responsible for the abuse not some repressed childhood memories. Which brings us to the third, repression the abuser blames their psychological problems on their childhood some old repressed memory and they also claim they have no control over their actions.
Unfortunately for me as an investigator and a survivor of a crime, after seeing some of the worst things that human beings are capable I agree to an extent, Freud looked at humanity and saw destructive drives, selfishness and lust (Wade, C.,et al, 2012, p. 64). This is the sour side of being a victim of a crime but in all of the bad beauty, selflessness, and compassion comes to light from those around you who just want you to be okay.
If you feel unsafe or something does occur call 911 and seek help. I am going to say this over and over again. You are not alone. It does not need to be this way. He or she does not have the god given right to place his or her hands on you at any time, you are beautiful and deserve respect and love.
Wade, C., & Travis, C. (2012). Invitation To Psychology (5 ed.). Upper Saddle River,
New Jersey: Prentice Hall