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More defence mechanisms - Part 3

Undoing is a defense mechanism in which a person tries to ‘undo’ an unhealthy, destructive or otherwise threatening thought or action by engaging in contrary behavior; making up for something bad that’s been done, thought or said.  Undoing refers to the phenomenon whereby a person tries to alter the past in some way to avoid or feign disappearance of an adversity or mishap; in other words, the performance of a specific action that is intended to negate in part a previous action or communication. Undoing is said to be related to the magical thinking of childhood sometimes aimed at negating or atoning for some disapproved of act or impulse by performing an action that is somehow opposite to that feared. It’s most commonly seen in the rituals accompanying Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD.


  • A person brings home flowers to a partner after having a lunchtime affair with another person 
  • After thinking about being violent with someone, one would then be overly nice or accommodating to them
  • After the husband abuses his wife he then ends up giving her some flowers or gifts to cover up for what he’s done
  • A father bashes his son; then buys him a new bike
Association is a connection between ideas, behaviours, events, objects, senses or feelings on a conscious or subconscious level.


Association is a connection between ideas, behaviours, events, objects, senses or feelings on a conscious or subconscious level. Associations, similar to suggestions, are generally established from birth through to adulthood and continue throughout a person’s life. They can be expressed spontaneously as a reflex response, or deliberately elicited by an individual or group of individuals who gather for some common purpose such as sports games, entertainment, education or similar. Association seems to operate as a chain of interlinked concepts, words, ideas and other stimuli such as a person’s face calling up its associated name, or of a tune or song reminding a person of an event, childhood or other.


  • An association was made by connecting their dog to comfort, because the dog provided comfort each time the person became upset
  • The well behaved young man hung out with ‘bad company’ in his teenage years and subsequently became like them
  • Upon seeing its’ mother, a baby cries for food, comfort or attention
  • Upon joining the choir with experienced singers, the young girl’s confidence grew and she became a famous singer
  • The boy’s confidence and skills grew after joining the team of experienced players
  • The smoker lit up a cigarette after getting angry and upset
  • As the elderly lady smelled the roses, memories of her childhood came flooding back