Substitution in psychology is a mechanism of psychological protection from an undesirable context, the basis of which is to replace an unacceptable action by acceptable or transfer the desired reaction from an unattainable objective or subjective object to a possible discharge. Substitution refers to secondary, higher-level protection mechanisms.

The process of replacement (displacement, displacement) was the subject of reflection and research by various philosophers, psychologists, writers, thinkers throughout the entire period of studying human behavioral patterns. Now the psychoanalytic concept, which most accurately explains the operation of the mechanism, is predominant. Individuals with a pronounced mechanism are characteristic of practicality in solving problems, achieving results in the profession, personal relationships, and possessing high adaptability. They qualitatively plan the solution of the required task. They seek to translate problems from abstract ones into a specific sequence of steps. It is believed that outstanding personalities, successful in various directions, have developed this mechanism in a constructive manner.

Substitution is a defense mechanism that is characterized by distortion (displacement) of reality and the unconsciousness of the process. May have constructive and destructive implementation. Usually, the psyche uses defense mechanisms in combination, and the person often uses a combination, with possible predominance, accentuation, of one of them. In the case of accentuation of the substitution mechanism, the personality is characterized by activity (constructive form), excitability, irritability (in destructive).

What is a substitution in psychology?

Substitution in psychology is a defense mechanism when emotions and reactions that one would like to send to an object are transferred to an irrelevant object that is not directly related to the situation.

Replacement according to Freud is defined as the unconscious "creation" of the dominant, capable of absorbing the attention of mental processes. The concept of “replacement” was seen by Freud for interpreting the work of intrapsychic processes, when objects are interchanged in the unconscious of man, a way of censoring in dreams. In Dream Interpretation, dreams are presented as "substitutes for reality" when objects of reality are replaced with dream symbolism, including manipulations with them, and the interpretation of dreams implies a reverse interpretation in order to identify the objects that initially cause the reaction of interest. In a dream, disturbing elements are replaced with symbolic or neutral, often the most important objects are hidden behind insignificant symbols.

Since the interpretation of dreams is now used in psychotherapy significantly less, the term Freud substitution is used to explain other phenomena and is synonymous with "displacement." So the version was put forward that the tendency to consider sex differences is the primary component of the manifestation of libido, as well as touching them.

Replacement overturns the dominant interest, so that it can be independently satisfied by a person, so an attempt was made to clarify the phenomenon of exhibitionism.

There are two forms of operation of this protection: object replacement and demand replacement.

Substitution of an object is realized in a situation when an individual cannot cope with emotions and projects them onto objects that are not of such importance as the initial ones or which do not bear such anxiety in the event of an impact on the action. For example, a child angry at a teacher may tear an album or notebook. In this context, such an act will be more substitute rather than aggressive.

The replacement of a need is expressed in the appeal to a different projection for interest, the actualization of a different value. For example, in the case of unsatisfactory personal relationships, a person can personalize a material object (for example, a car), give it a name, use epithets similar to those used in personal communication.

Substitution in psychology - examples

The mechanism of psychological defense is a process related to the daily manifestations of unconscious work.

Substitutions of substitution can be: substitution actions, for example, explain the destruction of creations instead of their completion (for example, completion is perceived as a symbolic end of the creation process).

Replacing verbal expression with action is a handshake instead of a greeting.

The substitution of the word action is the verbalization of aggression, and not its realization. Sublimation, as the highest form of protection, replaces the desired, but unacceptable, socially acceptable and proactive, positive for the individual.

The daily routine of this mechanism (as well as other psychological defenses) explains why troubles at work provoke quarrels at home - the fear of punishment, in the case of direct conflict with the authorities, leads to the desire to defuse the need for aggression on a more dependent partner or child. The need tends to resolve and if the direct path is closed, the activity is redirected to another direction. This ability is limited by the level of the psychological organization of the individual; the lower level tends to be more straightforward. The more developed a person is, the easier it is for her to find an acceptable way to defuse socially unacceptable desires.

This mechanism of psychological defense is associated with the ability to activity. The tension arising from the flow of unconscious desires is expressed in action available to the person at the moment. The brighter this mechanism is, the more active the personality will be, including in the physical plane. The mechanism of relaxation of psychological stress in sports is explained by replacement.

Equivalent physical activity is an active life position. Such people are in constant motion, active, multi-tasking, they are leaders because of their initiative. Forced activity restriction can have a destructive effect on them. The reverse side of the activity and high speed of mental processes is sharpness and aggressiveness, especially when it is impossible to perform the desired or planned action. Such aggressiveness is not intended to bring harm, but only the result of accumulated tension, it is impersonal.

Substitution is one of the leading defenses of individuals, a certain level of maturity. Multi-channel implementation of activity indicates a healthy manifestation of the mechanism of psychological protection. A variety of interests and actual life spheres provides redirection of activity from one channel to another and the possibility of dropping tension. A unidirectional direction can lead to addictions, including a non-chemical plan, for example, workaholism, gambling, obsession with sports activity and "proper nutrition" to the detriment of other areas, including, paradoxically, health. Working with defenses, in particular, will involve expanding the scope of the individual’s activities. Because frequent recommendation are exercise, a hobby. With the simplicity of this advice, it is effective for the development and success of a person.