Definition of reaction formation in English:

reaction formation


  • [mass noun] The tendency of a repressed wish or feeling to be expressed at a conscious level in a contrasting form.

    ‘repressed homosexuality can develop into paranoia via the operation of the defence mechanisms of reaction formation and projection’
    [count noun] ‘shamelessness is a reaction formation against shame, a defiant attempt to overcome a profound inner fear of weakness’
    • ‘Haunted by his father's defeat, Bush's presidency has been a case study in reaction formation.’
    • ‘I'm probably a recovering addict, and this is probably a defence-mechanism, some sort of reaction formation.’
    • ‘The psychoanalytic tradition of masquerade began with Joan Riviere's conception of womanliness as reaction formation in the aftermath of the intellectual woman's theft of masculinity.’
    • ‘By acknowledging the interramification of technology and the lived body, bodily integrity is undermined, and the desire for wholeness is figured as ‘a kind of reaction formation to this instability’.’
    • ‘There seems a quality of reaction formation suggesting, not surprisingly, that these scientists were struggling with themselves as much as with Müller, their teacher.’