When I was writing the recent article about the lamentations of “Fun Single girl“, one of the things that struck me was how many of her complaints, men being raised poorly, men not embodying the narrative of what a man should be and men not knowing what they want, so accurately appear to capture the negative phenomena. Some of the more frequent complaints I see in the manosphere both in articles and comment sections is that women are no longer raised to be feminine, to embody the image of what a female is and that women do not know what they want. This made me think of the mechanism of psychological projection, wherein a human being defends themselves against unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves and attributing them to others. Perhaps the woman in lamentations is in fact attributing the truth about herself to the men she desires but fails to capture in her net.
This lead to thinking about the psychological defense mechanisms that Sigmund Freud identified, and that Anna Freud defined in “The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense“. These are not merely unconscious protective measures to stop you from connecting with your instincts, but also serve to protect you from the consequences of confronting your flaws and weaknesses. Thus, by identifying when defense mechanisms appear in your psyche, you can better connect with your instincts, confront your flaws, and eradicate your weaknesses. There is quite an arsenal of different defense mechanisms, but for the purpose of brevity, I’ll cover the nine most common ones.
All the defense mechanisms share a common goal, to protect your ego. While the manifestation of many of them appear similar in manifestation, they are in fact different phenomena with different consequences. One should seek to identify these in oneself in order to grow as a person. Even the “best” defense mechanism, that involves channeling negative emotions into productive outlets, ultimately denies you growth on an emotional level. One can frequently see this in people who engage in vigorous bouts of self-improvement and self-development, only to find themselves not realizing their desired outcome.
All defense mechanisms tend to negatively influence your life, as they prevent you from confronting reality, however some are more productive than others. For instance sublimation (channeling negative emotions into positive action) is better than sitting down with your fingers in your ears going “nananana“, as with denial.
This is in many ways the generic mechanism as it serves as the foundation for many others. This mechanism is in use when a person refuses to see the truth of fact, or reality. While this may be a normal reaction to trauma, it also surfaces in many other situations. One of the better examples would be what was themed quantum state feminists by Milo Yiannopoulos, in that they provoke a response, only to claim to be the victim. In a sense, they are in denial of their own role in the situation.
With male and female relationships denial plays a somewhat unique role relating to female solipsism, where it appears that denial is a cornerstone of the female psyche, both in terms of loyalty and wrongdoing, but also in terms of being capable of disregarding large arsenals of fact in favor of anecdotal evidence.
The form of this function is one step beyond denial, where a person actually forgets unpleasant experiences in the past, or forgets to do something they find unpleasant such as visiting a dentist. People rarely forget those things that they enjoy or desire, but are prone to forget those which they do not. This reflects back to an old adage about weight training, “Do the lifts you hate”, people rarely forget to go to the gym on chest day, but frequently do so on leg day.
A person utilizing regression reverts back to a child-like emotional state where unconscious fears, anxieties and general angst reappears. A person generally regresses when put under conditions of stress. A person who regresses to the oral stage for instance, may become verbally aggressive. A person regressing to the anal stage may become messy or overly tidy. Freud’s original concept of psycho-sexual development centers on fixations developing at various stages. A fixation developing at the oral stage would according to Freud lead to an individual that has problems with dependency or aggression. If a fixation occurs at the anal stage, this manifests in a person either being messy, wasteful or destructive or alternatively, stringent, rigid and obsessive.
The defense mechanism known as displacement is when feelings that would get you in trouble are transferred from the target to a more harmless target. For instance, a husband may be angry at his wife, but instead takes it out on his employees. Feelings of lust towards an employee may be displaced to the wife. In essence, this is a simple case of moving feelings from one target to another. A person may also transfer anger at another into anger directed at themselves, which then manifests as self-destructive behavior.
Projection, the mechanism that started this essay, is one in which a person “projects” less desirable qualities, desires or onto someone else. We saw this illustrated in the lamentations of fun single girl, in that many of the things she mentioned about men such as them not knowing what they want, and avoiding settling down, are frequently the actions that land women in “fun, single land” at 30 years old or older.
This is when a person pulls a reversal on what they are actually feeling. Lets say that you harbor lustful feelings towards a co-worker, but you cannot act on them, as dipping your pen in company ink is a recipe for disaster. So instead of expressing your feelings of lust, you express the exact opposite. Quite common among men, especially those who have not implemented red pill philosophy, it defends the integrity of the psyche by preemptively rejecting the female through opposite behavior.
The mechanism of intellectualization is when rather than confront the emotional fallout and consequences of events, one instead approaches it from an intellectual perspective. Men appear more prone to this defense mechanism, and one of the better examples is the manner in which many women try to persuade their boyfriends to move in with them. “It makes so much sense financially, there is no point in paying for 2 appartements right?” or “We spend most of the time at my place anyway, so it would save so much time instead of running between our places“. Rather than challenge why every fiber of their being is fighting against moving in together, these guys think “I can’t disagree with the logic“.
Rationalization is simply a case of explaining away a situation. Where a person engaging in intellectualization converts painful or negative emotions into neutral thoughts, a person engaging in rationalization deals with the behavior or emotions through explaining them in some way. My favorite example of this mechanism in women, is from the movie “Clerks” where the following conversation takes place between the main character (Dante) and his girlfriend, Veronica :
Dante: You sucked that guy’s dick!?
Veronica: Yeah, how do you think I knew that he…
Dante: Wait, but you said you only had sex with three different guys! You never mentioned him.
Veronica: Because I never had sex with him.
Dante: You sucked his dick!
Veronica: We went out a few times. We never had sex, but we fooled around.
Dante: Oh, my God! Why did you tell me you only had sex with three different guys?
Veronica: Because I did only have sex with three different guys! That doesn’t mean I didn’t just go with people.
Dante: Oh, my God, I feel so nauseous.
Veronica: Sorry, Dante, I thought you understood.
Dante: I did understand! I understood that you had sex with three different guys and that’s all you said!
Veronica: Please calm down.
Dante: How many?
Dante: How many dicks have you sucked?
Veronica: Let it go!
Dante: How many?
Veronica: All right! Shut up a second and I’ll tell you! Jesus! I didn’t freak out like this when you told me how many girls you fucked!
Dante: This is different! This is important! How many? [A customer comes up to the counter and Dante helps her while Veronica does some math] Well?
Veronica: Um… something like 36.
Dante: WHAT? SOMETHING LIKE 36!?
Veronica: Lower your voice.
Dante: Wait, what is that anyway, “something like 36?” Does that include me?
Veronica: Um… 37.
The conversation above is what if often referred to as the “rationalization hamster” within the manosphere. Where a woman who sleeps with a man will rationalize away guilt, shame or the fact that she has a boyfriend, with “it just happened“. Some of the early pick-up material was built around feeding the hamster and giving a woman what would sound as credible excuses when she explains to her friends what happened.
The 9th and final defense mechanism covered in this essay, sublimation is when a person takes negative emotions and converts them into productive outlets. For instance, a man who takes his negative emotions about his self-worth and converts it into ambition and accomplishments. In many ways, sublimation is the primary defense mechanism advocated by most self-development authors both within and outside of the manosphere. Where the “always be improving” mantra advocates utilizing negative emotions and pushing yourself into a non-stop hamster wheel of self-improvement.
Summary and Conclusions
The defense mechanisms in themselves form a framework through which you can analyze your reactions to stress. While sublimation is most likely the most productive one, it is no more productive than identifying the reason for why you are utilizing it. You may find yourself a few years down the road, having made great progress, yet facing the exact same issues. The ability to identify defense mechanisms at work in other people, also lets you know that you are pressing on a sore spot, and thus, informs future actions.
Perhaps one of the more known uses of defense mechanisms in the sphere is relating to the so called “Purple Pill“, which can be argued as a mixture of denial and rationalization, wherein a person who is fully aware of red pill truths, will deny or rationalize them away to save themselves the struggle and pain involved with letting go of the blue pill fantasy. This is quite common among men who find the sphere because they are hopelessly in love with their unicorn, and seek to deductively solve their problem. They arrive in the sphere, learn game, and occasionally the principles that serve as its foundation. They utilize these methods in order to get their oneitis, then immediately revert back to the blue pill theoretical framework only to find themselves in the sphere yet again, this time lamenting the loss of their “perfect woman“, and asking how to win her back.
When Neil Strauss tells the story of Mystery and his oneitis in “The Game”, what he outlines is the breakdown of Mystery’s intellectualization of the human mating process. Mystery devised a system that predictably and reliably allowed him to sleep with beautiful women, however when he sought to bridge this into a long-term relationship with a woman with whom he was in love, the intellectualization cracked. He was no longer able to view the interactions through a purely intellectual lens, due to the strength of the emotions he was feeling. When we speak of congruence, we are speaking of to what extent a person’s external manifestation reflects their inner reality.
For instance, is the man who appears confident, well put together, great looking, in great shape, with all the trappings of wealth and style truly this person, or is this merely a image he projects into the world, to cover the opposite? Female’s shit test for this exact reason, to see whether the inside matches the outside.